- Associated Press - Saturday, December 12, 2015

NEW YORK — Derrick Henry bulldozed defenses while carrying Alabama’s offense this season, and then walked away with a Heisman Trophy.

The Crimson Tide’s super-sized running back won college football’s most famous award Saturday night, becoming just the third running back to take the Heisman Trophy, given to the best player in the nation, in the last 16 years.

The 6-foot-3, 242-pound Henry is the second Alabama player to win the Heisman Trophy, joining Mark Ingram. Since Ingram won the award in 2009, it had gone to five consecutive quarterbacks.

Stanford’s do-it-all running back Christian McCaffrey was the runner-up, making it four second-place finishes for Cardinal players in seven seasons.

Deshaun Watson, quarterback of No. 1 Clemson, finished third.

It was the closest Heisman Trophy voting since Ingram won by the slimmest margin ever, but still a comfortable victory for Henry. He received 1,832 points, 293 more than McCaffrey, who finished with 1,539. Watson received the third-most points for a third-place finisher with 1,165.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was fourth with 334 points and Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds was fifth with 180 points, but Henry, McCaffrey and Watson dominated the voting.

Henry broke the SEC record with 1,986 rushing yards previously held by 1982 Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker and matched a league mark with 23 touchdowns, leading No. 2 Alabama to the College Football Playoff.

He choked up during his speech, thanking his family, coaches and teammates, and mentioning former Alabama teammate Altee Tenpenny, who was killed in a car crash two months ago.

Henry was born to teenage parents and raised with the strong influence of his grandmother, Gladys, in the small north Florida town of Yulee, which is just outside of Jacksonville, but very much country living.

Gladys Henry has been hospitalized for weeks in Florida with heart and respiratory problems. Derrick Henry said his grandmother was with him in spirit as his childhood dream of winning the Heisman came true.

“I love you so much,” he said.

Henry went to Alabama as a five-star recruit. Before the Heisman Trophy was a dose of humility. For the first time football wasn’t easy. Being bigger, stronger and faster wasn’t enough in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

He was a backup on a crowded depth chart as a freshman and thought about transferring, but with the encouragement of his family decided to stay put.

As a sophomore he shared carries with T.J. Yeldon and ran for 990 yards and 11 touchdowns, showing signs of big things to come.

This season, as a junior, with Alabama breaking in a first-time starting quarterback and inexperienced wide receivers, coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide decided to hook the offense to Henry and let him lead the way.

The Crimson Tide hammered away with Henry, and he set a school record with 339 carries, including an astounding 90 carries in Alabama’s last two games against Auburn and Florida. He had four 200-yard games in the second half of the season. He went for 210 against LSU to move to the front of the Heisman Trophy race, and he had 271 yards in the Iron Bowl victory over Auburn.

Weary defenses got plenty of looks at big No. 5 from behind and his long bundled locks sticking out of the back of his helmet.

After Ingram won the Heisman Trophy in 2009, he helped Alabama win the national championship. Henry will try to do the same. The Crimson Tide faces Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 31 and is trying to earn a fourth national championship in nine seasons under Saban.

Henry has not announced his intentions yet, but a jump to the NFL seems likely after this season.

Alabama placed its championship hopes on Henry’s broad shoulders and he has delivered.

”Roll Tide,” Henry said.

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