The 2015 Heisman Trophy finalists – Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, Alabama running back Derrick Henry and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson – arrived in New York on Friday ahead of Saturday’s award presentation.
McCaffrey, who is in New York for the first time, said the first time he thought he had a shot at college football’s most prestigious award was just “a couple of days ago when they announced my name.” With less than 36 hours to go before the Heisman announcement, he and the other finalists have packed schedules, being shuttled from media availabilities to interviews with ESPN and other events around New York.
“It’s amazing,” McCaffrey said of the city. “It’s definitely a culture shock. I’ve never seen so many high buildings. [The hotel] is nine miles away from the airport and it took us like an hour and a half to get here. So that was something interesting, beating the traffic. But it’s such a beautiful city and I’m so lucky to be here.”
The three finalists have had a lot of time to spend with each other throughout the week, as they were together in Atlanta for the College Football Awards. McCaffrey went to the mall with Watson a couple of days ago to hang out, and he’s been in awe of Henry’s physical presence.
“Any running back in the world would say say [that it is mind-boggling that he’s also a running back]. He’s one of a kind,” McCaffrey said. “You don’t see a lot of 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4 running backs anymore. It’s definitely crazy; his legs are so long. He’s so good at what he does and to see how big he is in person is crazy.”
“He’s so good at everything too — I think people take that for granted. He can beat you with speed and quickness as well as with power football.”
Henry, who swept the Doak Walker, Maxwell and Walter Camp awards at the presentation on Thursday night, is likely McCaffrey’s biggest competition for the Heisman award.
Throughout this hectic week, McCaffrey also been in touch with a Stanford football alumnus who knows a bit about what it’s like to be in New York for a Heisman trophy presentation: Andrew Luck, who was a finalist for the award in both 2010 and 2011.
“[He said] just to enjoy it, really just to embrace it,” McCaffrey said. “It can get a little bit hectic, but he emphasized making the most of it and really relishing it because it doesn’t come around every once in a while. So I’m going to try to use his advice and take this all in and enjoy it.”
McCaffrey, Stanford’s fourth Heisman finalist over the last seven years, hopes to take home the trophy on Saturday night when the award is announced on ESPN starting at 5 p.m.
“That would mean the world for a lot of people — not only myself, but my family. And that’d be big for Stanford as well,” McCaffrey said. “I know we’ve had a lot of finalists in the past few years that haven’t actually won, and so to win it would be something that would mean a whole lot to a lot of people.”
Contact Jordan Wallach at jwallach ‘at’ stanford.edu.