Breaking Down Derrick Henry’s Heisman Campaign


Alabama’s Derrick Henry is chasing more records and a Heisman trophy. And all of it is well within grasp.

The Heisman Trophy debate is one of the more interesting (and frustrating) debates in all of sports. When you break it down, there are essentially three main groups of thinking when determining the winner. You have your traditionalists. These are the people who go by the definition of the Heisman Trophy, which is basically the most extraordinary player in the country, whether it’s big game moments, impact levels or stats posted. Your next group is, well, those stat geeks.

They’ll find every single advanced stat they can to make a case for their certain player. Try and not debate these creatures because they’ll pull acronyms even the biggest football fans haven’t heard of so they can try and prove their point. Having experience, these stats surprise you because they come out of nowhere. You’re like an orc before Legolas winds up his bow from a couple hundred yards out. Last but, okay maybe certainly the least, are the small school guys.

Doesn’t matter about the strength of schedule, doesn’t matter the type of system implemented and doesn’t matter if all the common sense is thrown out the window. These are the people who want to watch the world burn. There is no reasoning with these people, they’re basically trolls that even Batman would lift the no-kill rule for. Whoa…whoa okay, I’m going on a rant, let’s get back to my main point.

Derrick Henry is basically all of these things, except for the whole small school part. His stats make Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson look mortal, he’s the most valuable player on the best team in the country and he’s going to burn down so many records in Atlanta on Saturday, even General Sherman just broke a sweat. Derrick Henry is the chosen one. He took the red pill and the blue pill and made a purple one and says that we’re the ones tripping while watching his heroic season come to a close.

Nov 7, 2015; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry (2) runs the ball for a touchdown during the third quarter against the LSU Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Level 1: Most Valuable Player

This is pretty easy, of course, Derrick Henry is the most valuable player. When it comes down to crunch time and when teams traditionally face their rivals, I’m talking November here, El Tractorcito plowed through the competition as he gained 753 yards and ran in 8 touchdowns on a very impressive 6.6 yards per carry average. After going through the months of September and October, Henry didn’t slow down, he became stronger which was evident on his 46th carry of the Iron Bowl, when he ran in a 25-yard score. So essentially, after 46 carries, Henry wore down the defense and not the other way around. While quarterback Jake Coker has had a fine season and did enough for defenses to somewhat respect the passing game, it was Henry that delivered against former Heisman hopeful Leonard Fournette. It was also Henry who quieted the crowds in Athens, College Station and Starkville. This Heisman hopeful put the team on his back, and much like this season, he didn’t slow down.

Level 2: Math!

Alright stat geeks here you go:

vs FBS winning teams – 227 carries 1,406 yards 18 touchdowns

Dec 4, 2015; Atlanta , GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry (2) carries the ball during a walk through practice at the Georgia Dome. The Alabama Crimson Tide will take on the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship Saturday. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

All this means is Henry is still good against quality competition and doesn’t need to rack up yards against inferior opponents.

Derrick Henry currently holds the single-season rushing record (1,797) and touchdown record (22) in Alabama history. He’s also 95 yards and 2 touchdowns away from breaking those SEC single-season records.

This means he will have performed better than any other running back in SEC history. Just take a moment, think back, and yes you’re smiling now.

978. Those are the number of yards gained after contact, best in the nation. He’s not just strong, he also has 21 runs of 15+ yards that went for 646 yards, unfortunately, that’s not tops in the nation but 2nd isn’t too bad.

He will hit you like a moving train and then proceed to outrun everyone on the field, which will lead to your nightmares later that night and possibly even psychiatric help after what you’ve just witnessed. It’s a tank, it’s a plane, no it’s actually Predator in football gear hunting you down in the jungle…or the football field.

Derrick Henry, 271 rushing yards on 46 carries. Auburn, 260 total yards. Of those 46 carries, only 1 went for no gain.

I just felt like throwing that one in here. Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. His 271 rushing yards are also the most ever in an Iron Bowl, so boom.

Henry has posted 4 200-yard games, tied for the most ever in a single season.

Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson are who Henry is tied with, they sound familiar.

Level 3: Extraordinary Moments

Every Heisman winner had a moment, or moments, that sealed the deal. For Henry, multiple moments come to mind. His montage could take up Ryan Seacrest’s entire time during the New Year’s Eve Show that I will begrudgingly watch while spiking whatever the closest beverage next to me is. Facing LSU, Henry outshined the then favorite, Fournette. After posting 210 yards and 3 touchdowns, there was a new Heisman favorite among the conference. The week after the physical and emotional game against LSU, Henry ran for 200+ yards again and notched a couple scores for good measure against the upset thinking Mississippi State Bulldogs. Hey, want to go for the hat trick? How about last weekend against Auburn where he basically broke all of the records? Yeah, that seems like a nice moment as well.

To summarize, Henry has completed the checklist and then some. Tuscaloosa has been graced with this possible immortal being for three years now and a national championship will put him among the gods, or somewhere near Nick Saban. You can say that this has been a Heisman path for Henry, but I prefer to think of it as his Fury Road. He’s playing a double ax guitar that shoots fire while running over opponents on his way to Valhalla. The Heisman Trophy is already Henry’s to claim, having an extra game against a formidable defense could just provide bonus points as long as Alabama wins. In a traditional quarterback heavy award, Henry has proven his value is higher than any signal-caller and any other play in the country. Derrick Henry certainly has some hater —thanks internet— but everyone will be lining up like it’s the Star Wars premiere to have him on their team.

Next: PHOTOS: Scenes From SEC Championship Eve

This isn’t just a one-year path for Henry. He went from a potential linebacker for some schools during recruitment to a Heisman trophy finalist at running back.