"After three incredible years at Stanford, I've decided the time is right to enter the NFL Draft."
Thus begins Christian McCaffery's letter to Stanford fans explaining his decision to forgo his senior season with the Cardinal and enter the 2017 NFL Draft.
It's a heartfelt letter in which McCaffrey illustrates his love for the university and football team, makes a point of promising to return to campus to finish his degree, but ultimately writes that he’s ready to take the next step.
“I love Stanford more than anything,” McCaffrey writes. “It will be extremely hard to leave. I feel humbled and inspired every day by the peers who surround me. I came to Stanford because I wanted to be challenged more than I ever have in my life. And that desire is shared by everyone who walks on this campus, by people who literally will change the world.”
"This is the best time to live out my dream." @CMccaffrey5 explains his decision in his words. #WildCaff #GoStanford https://t.co/NoXXPx5eH6— Stanford Football (@StanfordFball) December 7, 2016
The announcement comes after a stellar junior season in which McCaffrey rushed for a Pac-12-leading 1,603 yards and recorded 13 touchdowns on an average of 6.3 yards per carry and 145.7 yards per game. The running back also caught 37 passes for 310 yards and three scores and averaged 9.6 yards on punt returns and 22.7 yards on kickoff returns (both team highs). McCaffrey was the only non-quarterback to rank in the top-10 of total offense in the Pac-12 this year, coming in at No. 9.
Those stats led McCaffrey's teammates to select him as the Irving S. Zeimer Award winner for team MVP.
.@CMccaffrey5 has been voted by his peers as Team MVP & Irving S. Zeimer Award winner. RT to congratulate Christian!#WildCaff #GoStanford pic.twitter.com/KiVwRdOzsV— Stanford Football (@StanfordFball) December 4, 2016
On his career, McCaffrey has amassed 3,922 yards on the ground, good for third place in Stanford history, just 378 yards behind Stepfan Taylor’s record-setting 4,300 between 2009-12.
He also notched three of the top-10 rushing games in school history, with his 243 yards against UCLA in 2015 setting the program record. McCaffrey’s 2,019 rushing yards in 2015 also knocked Toby Gerhart out of first place for most yards in a season in Stanford history.
Apparently, there were no hard feelings from Gerhart, as McCaffrey says he consulted the Stanford legend about this decision.
"I've talked to many in and out of the game and received advice from people whose opinions I greatly respect, including Toby Gerhart, who was here for a game this season," McCaffrey wrote. "I took their feedback and came to a conclusion: I'm ready. I talked to Coach Shaw about everything. He completely agreed. Really, it just made sense. The opportunity is right in front of me. Simply put, this is the best time to live out my dream."
"That's not even a question. I will," @CMccaffrey5 says about returning to @Stanford to get his degree.— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) December 7, 2016
McCaffrey’s last game in a Cardinal uniform will come Dec. 30, as Stanford closes out the season against North Carolina in the Sun Bowl. The Tar Heels' defense struggled against the run this year, allowing an average of 235.5 yards per game this season. Knowing McCaffrey, the junior will end his Stanford career with a bang.
Could 379 yards (and the new Stanford career record) be in store?