Heading into the 2015 FBS season, there were two running backs above all others receiving the most Heisman buzz: Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott and Georgia’s Nick Chubb.
Being excluded from that group may have bothered Alabama running back Derrick Henry, or at least it seemed that way with how hard he ran in the Crimson Tide’s season-opening game against Wisconsin on Sunday.
The 242-pound bulldozer hammered the Badgers’ defense in the 35-17 Bama win, rushing for a a career-high 147 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries.
Yes, you read that correctly. Against one of the better programs in college football, Henry averaged 11.3 yards per rush.
It didn’t take long for Henry to make his presence felt in the game. He scored the Crimson Tide’s first points of the season with 6:01 left in the first quarter, bullying his way through Wisconsin’s defense and taking it to the house from 37 yards out.
Henry’s second score was undoubtedly the play of the game. The Badgers were able to weather the Bama storm enough to keep the contest a one-possession game throughout the first half. However, just minutes into the second half, Henry ripped off a 56-yard touchdown run that helped separate the Crimson Tide from the Badgers for good. Henry then completed the hat trick a little more than six minutes later – this time scoring from two yards out – and putting Alabama up 28-7 in the process.
With the game out of hand, Henry didn’t take another handoff following his third score. All he had to do for the remainder of the game was sit on the sidelines and watch his fellow teammates finish off a huge victory that he played the most pivotal role in them getting.
While a great showing, Henry shouldn’t leapfrog Chubb and Elliott, along with some of the other top preseason candidates in the Heisman race. Chubb and Elliott were no slouches in Week 1, either, with the former rushing for 160 yards and two scores and the latter posting 122 yards and a touchdown. But Henry finds himself in a class with these top Heisman picks now, and that’s really all he could have hoped to accomplish in just one week.
Henry’s Heisman stock is on the way up these days, and with the Crimson Tide facing off against Middle Tennessee in Week 2, it should be the Derrick Henry Show once again next Saturday.
Henry rushed for 990 yards and 11 touchdowns working as T.J. Yeldon’s backup during the 2014 season.