Derrick Henry Handles Attention Well

Although football is a team game and most of the attention in the Alabama camp is on keeping momentum for championship season, it also is the time for discussion of individual awards. Derrick Henry is in the awards race this year, and Alabama Coach Nick Saban said the junior tailback is handling that attention as well as he does his job on the field.

Alabama tailback Derrick Henry is in almost all discussion of perhaps the ultimate individual award in sports, the Heisman Trophy that is awarded to the nation’s best college football player.

It was no surprise when Henry was selected as one of 11 semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award. the PwC SMU Athletic Forum announced Wednesday morning. The Doak Walker Award is presented annually by the SMU Athletic Forum in Dallas to the nation’s top running back.

Henry has been the offensive star for the Crimson Tide, which is 9-1 in the nation and ranked second in the College Football Playoff Selection Committee poll. Bama hosts Charleston Southern at 3 p.m. CST Saturday in the final game of the season at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game will be televised by the SEC Network.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban said, “I'm always happy for the individuals, for the recognition that they receive.”

Saban had been asked about Alabama players who had been in the Heisman Trophy conversation, including 2009 Heisman winner Mark Ingram, quarterback A.J. McCarron, and tailback Trent Richardson.

Saban said that all of the men who had been in contention, including Henry this year, “have all been great team guys. It's never really been a problem in the program and it's just been a positive from the standpoint of individual recognition. We're always happy to see our players get recognized.

“[Henry] works hard. He really cares about the team and always gives the other players a lot of credit. He's a good leader and sets a good example. He's a really driven guy so I don't see any issues.”

In his first season as the team’s starting running back, Henry has compiled 1,458 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns on 240 carries for a 6.1 yards per carry average. He leads the nation in rushing touchdowns and ranks second overall in rushing yards.

The junior tailback has been at his best against the toughest competition, amassing an FBS-leading 1,072 yards and 12 touchdowns in the Crimson Tide’s six games against ranked opponents.

Henry has put together one of the top seasons in school history. His 1,458 yards through the Tide’s 10 games is the most by a Crimson Tide player over that stretch and already ranks as the third highest single-season total in Alabama annals. He ranks second all-time for rushing touchdowns in a season and currently sits just two scores behind Trent Richardson’s mark of 21 set in 2011. He has also recorded at least one rushing touchdown in 15 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the country and the longest streak by an SEC player in the last 20 seasons.

In three of the past four games, Henry has put together 200-plus yard performances including each of his last two outings, with each coming against top 20 teams. He is the first Alabama player to register three 200-yard performances in a four-game stretch, and has compiled a program record for rushing yards (792) over that same period.

The Doak Walker Award was created in 1989 to recognize the nation’s premier running back for his accomplishments on the field, achievement in the classroom, and citizenship in the community. The award is named after three-time All-America running back and 1948 Heisman Trophy winner Doak Walker. Three finalists for the award will be announced Nov. 24, wherein the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee will cast a second vote to determine the 2015 recipient.

Richardson won the Award in 2011 to become the first player in Alabama history to be selected as the nation’s top running back. In that season, the junior tailback rushed for 1,679 yards on 283 carries (5.9 ypc) and added 21 rushing touchdowns while catching 29 passes for 338 yards and three scores.

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