Photo: David Bernal/Stanfordphoto.com

HEISMAN WATCH

Is This McCaffrey’s Year?

When breakout star Christian McCaffrey finished second in last year’s Heisman Trophy voting, the all-purpose back, now a junior, joined John Elway, ’83, Toby Gerhart, ’10, and Andrew Luck, ’12, as Stanford runners-up.

The Likely Competition

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson.
Third in last year’s balloting behind winner Derrick Henry of Alabama and McCaffrey.

Leonard Fournette, RB, Louisiana State. 
Second straight year among the media’s preseason favorites.

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma.
A former walk-on transfer who could vault over the bigger names.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State. 
Considered by some even more of a gamebreaker than McCaffrey.

J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State.
Could post enormous numbers for a Buckeyes juggernaut.


The Buzz so far

The forecasting magazines (Lindy’s, Athlon) lean toward Watson as the favorite. But as independent analyst Phil Steele wrote in his publication, while ranking McCaffrey second, “. . . now all the voters know exactly who he is and what time Stanford plays” (a reference to the late West Coast starting times last season that deprived many Heisman voters the chance to see McCaffrey’s games).

Perform He Must

McCaffrey in 2016 is going to be compared with McCaffrey in 2015, when he broke the single-season all-purpose yards record (3,864) and averaged 144.2 rushing yards per game. Come Heisman time, if his stats are comparable, he has a good chance of becoming the Cardinal’s first Heisman winner since Jim Plunkett in 1970. As Lindy’s noted, “Stanford is due. So very, very due.”•