College Sports

Heisman Trophy primer: Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey dazzles in video, on paper

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey (5) heads for the end zone for a touchdown on a 28-yard pass during the second half of the Pacific-12 Conference championship game Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. Stanford won 41-22.
Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey (5) heads for the end zone for a touchdown on a 28-yard pass during the second half of the Pacific-12 Conference championship game Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. Stanford won 41-22. The Associated Press

The kid who grew up with Barry Sanders posters on his wall delivered a season that eclipsed Sanders’ best in college when it comes to all-purpose yards.

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey set the NCAA record for all-purpose yards with 3,496 this season. Even if it took McCaffrey two extra games to reach the mark, just being mentioned alongside Sanders’ magical 1988 campaign is quite the accomplishment. He’s a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, which will be presented Saturday at 5 p.m. on ESPN.

McCaffrey finished second in the nation to Alabama’s Derrick Henry with 1,847 yards rushing. But it’s in the all-around game where he truly excels. As a skilled pattern runner with great hands out of the backfield or from the slot, McCaffrey added 41 catches for 540 yards to give him the most yards from scrimmage in the nation with 2,387. He also had the second most kick return yards in the nation with 1,042 and 67 additional yards on punt returns to finish with over 1,000 more all-purpose yards than any other player in the country.

HEISMAN-DEFINING MOMENT: McCaffrey provided his highlight-reel play in the Big Game against Cal when he caught a screen pass from Kevin Hogan, broke two tackles in the backfield, juked three other defenders and outraced the rest of the defense on a 49-yard score.

BEST GAME: McCaffrey set the school-record with 461 all-purpose yards in the Pac-12 title game against USC. He ran for 207 yards and a touchdown, added four catches for 105 yards and another score, had 149 yards in returns and even threw an 11-yard TD pass.

WORST GAME: McCaffrey was held to 66 yards rushing and 23 yards receiving in a season-opening loss at Northwestern. It was his fewest yards from scrimmage all season.

PRO PROSPECTS: McCaffrey isn’t eligible for the draft until 2017 at the earliest. While he might lack the size to be an every-down back, he should be able to thrive as a slot receiver, returner and change-of-pace back.

▪ Read more on Alabama’s Derrick Henry.

▪ Read more on Clemson’s Deshaun Watson.

The Associated Press

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