One of the surprises in college football history is that Alabama went decades without having a Heisman Trophy winner. The Crimson Tide has been a dominant team force, one of the nation’s few truly elite programs, while lesser programs had players who were recognized as best in the nation.
In 2009 Mark Ingram broke the ceiling for Alabama football when he was named the Tide’s first Heisman Trophy winner. It was perhaps the most magical season in storied Bama history with Alabama going undefeated, winning the national championship with a victory over Texas in the Rose Bowl, and having a Heisman Trophy winner.
This year Tide junior running back Derrick Henry is considered the leader for the Heisman Trophy, with much riding on his performance and Alabama’s result in Saturday’s Southeastern Conference Championship Game. Bama and Florida, which has one of the nation’s top defensive teams, will kickoff at 3 p.m. CST (4 Eastern) at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. CBS will televise the game.
There was another bit of a hint as to Henry’s national standing this week when he was selected as one of five finalists for the 2015 Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, recognizing the nation’s top college football player. The finalist honors are Henry’s third, as he is also a finalist for the Maxwell Award (nation’s top player) and Doak Walker Award (nation’s top running back).
In his first year as the team’s starting back, Henry has already set the all-time mark for yards in a season (1,797) and touchdowns (22). He leads the nation in rushing yards and touchdowns and is third in yards per game with 149.8. Henry has recorded four 200-plus yard performances this year, making him just the third back in SEC history to record four in one season, joining Herschel Walker (Georgia) and Bo Jackson (Auburn).
Henry is on pace for 25 touchdowns and 2,097 yards this season, which would set him as the conference’s all-time leader for touchdowns in a season and earn him the distinction of being the 25th back in NCAA history to record 2,000 or more yards in a season.
Joining Henry on the list of finalists are running back Christian McCaffrey (Stanford), quarterbacks Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) and Deshaun Watson (Clemson), and defensive back Desmond King (Iowa).
The 2015 Walter Camp Player of the Year will be announced on Thursday, Dec. 10 following a vote by FBS head coaches and sports information directors. The award is named after Walter Camp, who first selected an All-America team in 1889. The Walter Camp Foundation was founded in 1967 to perpetuate the ideals of Camp and continue the tradition of selecting an annual All-America team.