NEW YORK — Former Valor Christian running back Christian McCaffrey fell just short in his quest for the 2015 Heisman Trophy.
Alabama's Derrick Henry was voted as the top football player in the country. McCaffrey, a sophomore at Stanford, finished second, and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson finished third.
Henry totaled 1,832 points, ahead of McCaffrey's 1,539. Watson finished with 1,165 points. Henry also had the most first-place votes with 378, McCaffrey had 290 and Watson had 148.
McCaffrey did win the far-west vote by a large margin — he had 333 points to Henry's 282 — but that's not surprising considering that is the highest concentration of voters who took the time to watch him play.
The fact that McCaffrey plays on the West Coast may have hurt his chances. He was the MVP of the Pac-12 Championship Game, when he amassed 461 all-purpose yards, but prior to that game, 16 percent of the Heisman voters had already turned in their ballot.
No Colorado native, or Colorado high school football player, has ever won the Heisman Trophy. There have now been three runner-ups, including Byron "Whizzer" White of CU in 1937 and Mitchell's Terry Miller, of Oklahoma State, in 1977. And McCaffrey.
At Stanford this year, McCaffrey set the single-season record for all-purpose yards with 3,496. That includes 1,847 rushing yards on 319 carries, giving him an average of 5.8 yards per rush.
His Heisman candidacy rose exponentially during the 2015 season, and climbed to a fever pitch after the Pac-12 Championship Game win against USC.
All the while, the support from his home state of Colorado continued to build. Valor Christian held an on-campus watch party for the announcement on Saturday that hundreds of people attended.
"I feel so much support from back home," McCaffrey said on Friday, "and that's one of the coolest things in the world for me."
Then, on Monday, he was named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
It was the culmination of an incredible season in which McCaffrey helped lead Stanford to an 11-2 season in 2015 with his all-around talents. That season will finish with an appearance in the Rose Bowl against Iowa on Jan. 1, 2016.
As a result, the awards rolled in.
Last week, McCaffrey was named a first-team Academic All-American. On Wednesday, he won the Paul Hornung Award, given to college football's most versatile player.
And then, this weekend, he took a pretty important trip to New York.
The praise even extended to his fellow finalists.
"I call Christian, 'Mr. Do-It-All,'" Alabama's Henry said on Saturday.
None of this is too surprising to those who watched him play at Valor Christian from 2009-13. The only major difference now is that his level of play has captivated an entire country instead of just an entire state.
At Valor, McCaffrey set the Colorado high school record for career all-purpose yards when he amassed 8,839. He helped lead the Eagles to four consecutive state championships. He finished his career second in career points (848), touchdowns (141), and receiving touchdowns (46).
He was a two-time Gatorade player of the year. He was the CHSAANow Class 5A player of the year as a senior. In his four seasons, Valor Christian won four state championships.
And that's only his football accomplishments. McCaffrey also starred in basketball, and qualified for the state track meet.
McCaffrey moved on to Stanford in the fall of 2014, but his high school career, though still fresh, has started to ascend to an "all-time great" status.
During the fall of 2015, McCaffrey transformed into Colorado's Christian McCaffrey. He was the state's representative — yes, for high school football primarily, but also for athletics as a whole.
McCaffrey's two younger brothers, Dylan and Luke, play for Valor Christian's football team, which won the 5A championship last weekend. Dylan is the starting quarterback, and is emerging as a major Division I prospect as a junior.
McCaffrey's oldest brother, Max, is in his senior season as a wide receiver at Duke. He helped Valor win championships in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
McCaffrey would have become the youngest player to win the award. As it is, he will return to Stanford for his junior year in which he figures to be an early favorite in the 2016 Heisman race.
"I can work on everything," McCaffrey said, adding that his Stanford coach David Shaw "always talks about being the most complete back you can be, and that comes with strength, speed, physicality and film study. Just getting better in every aspect. You're never perfect, so there's a lot of room for improvement that I'm excited to take on."
The Valor alum said he enjoyed his time in New York as a finalist.
"I'm just trying to relish it all and take it all in because this is not guaranteed and going through this is pretty special," McCaffrey said on Saturday.
He added that the Heisman Trophy didn't even come onto his radar until he was announced as a finalist on Monday.
"Once you start worrying about all that — specific goals, and stats — that's when things start to crumble," McCaffrey said. "Football's a team game, it takes everybody buying in to have success, and individual success comes from team success."
Colorado products as Heisman finalists
A history of Colorado high school football alumni in Heisman Trophy voting.
- 1937. Byron "Whizzer" White, of CU, finishes second. He played at the now-closed Wellington HS.
- 1961. Lakewood's Joe Romig, at CU, finishes sixth.
- 1976. Mitchell's Terry Miller, of Oklahoma State finishes fourth.
- 1977. Miller, Colorado's only two-time finalist, finishes second.
- 2012. Loveland's Collin Klein, at Kansas State, finishes third.
- 2015. Valor Christian's Christian McCaffrey, of Stanford, finishes second.