Alabama running back Derrick Henry wins Heisman Trophy

NEW YORK — Derrick Henry, who practically has been a one-man offense for SEC champion Alabama, became only the second player in that school's long football tradition to capture the Heisman Trophy at a ceremony Saturday night in midtown Manhattan.

Henry was a clear-cut winner with 1,832 points, including 378 first-place votes, to finish ahead of Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey (1,539) and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson (1,165). Alabama's Mark Ingram was the last running back to win the award in 2009 and the only other member of the Crimson Tide to do so.

When the award was announced, Henry choked back some emotion to deliver a moving speech in which he thanked his family and a long line of coaches and teammates who supported him and believed in him at every level. Prior to winning the award, Henry said many of the past Heisman winners were his heroes, and he hopes to live up to their standard as a role model.

"To all the kids who are watching, I hope I'm someone you can look up to," Henry said. "Don't be afraid to pray. Keep God first. If you believe it, you can achieve it."

Quarterbacks have dominated the award in recent years, winning 13 of the previous 15. The Heisman used to be considered a running back award, but the only two who won in that stretch were Ingram and USC's Reggie Bush, who had to vacate the 2005 award after it was discovered he accepted improper benefits from an agent while in school.


Henry said Ingram had been in contact with him recently, including Saturday morning before the ceremony. "He told me to call if I needed advice, and he congratulated me on the awards that I've won," said Henry, who also won the Maxwell Award as the nation's top player and the Doak Walker award as the top running back.

Earlier in the season, many considered LSU running back Leonard Fournette the frontrunner. But the Alabama defense put an end to that talk, holding Fournette to 31 yards rushing while Henry ran for 210 and three touchdowns. Henry ultimately led the nation with 1,986 rushing yards, which also set the SEC record ahead of former Heisman winner Herschel Walker of Georgia, and he scored 23 touchdowns. His 271 yards in Alabama's Iron Bowl win over Auburn broke a record set by former Heisman winner Bo Jackson.

"That's a blessing, and I'm so thankful to be mentioned with names like that," Henry said of Walker and Jackson. "They both are legends. I'm not where they are. I have a lot to improve on, but it's an honor to be mentioned with those names."

Having the opportunity to mingle with several former Heisman winners this weekend was a thrill for Henry. "I'm like a kid in a candy store seeing these guys," he said. Explaining before the announcement what winning the award would mean to him, Henry added, "It's the Heisman. It would be a dream come true to win. These guys are my heroes. These are the guys I grew up watching."

Once Fournette faded from the Heisman race, there was no clear leader, but Watson and McCaffrey each were deserving in their own right, as Henry acknowledged. "I call Christian 'Mr. Do-It-All,' and I call Deshaun 'Mr. Efficient,'" Henry said by way of neatly summing up their assets.

Watson led Clemson to a 13-0 record and No. 1 ranking while passing for 3,512 yards and 30 touchdowns and rushing for 887 yards and 11 more TDs. Stanford's McCaffrey set the NCAA record for all-purpose yardage with 3,496 yards, including 1,847 rushing yards, which was second only to Henry.

The Heisman winner possesses a combination of power and speed. He said he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 to 4.5 seconds. Because Alabama has a limited passing attack, opposing defenses often stack the box with eight and nine defenders. But Henry took the pounding and kept plowing threw everything he faced.

"I don't care what the defense stacks in the box," Henry said. "I have to do what I have to do to help my team win…As a running back, you've got to have that mentality saying that you want to run the ball hard and be physical. That's my mentality."

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