STANFORD, Calif. — After initially resisting promoting Christian McCaffrey’s Heisman Trophy campaign, Stanford coach David Shaw said the time is right to start lobbying.
With McCaffrey on a record-setting all-purpose yardage pace that has No. 7 Stanford (8-1, 7-0 Pac-12) atop the Pac-12 standings and in contention for a College Football Playoff berth, Stanford unveiled a website Tuesday promoting McCaffrey’s candidacy.
McCaffrey has staked out quite a case for the trophy as he leads the nation with 2,174 all-purpose yards and is on pace to break the mark of 3,250 yards Barry Sanders set in 11 games on the way to winning the Heisman Trophy in 1988.
"He’s played his way into the Heisman conversation, which is great," Shaw said. "We want to support him. It won’t be a distraction to our football team. It’s a really good sidebar to what we have going as an entire football team and he has deserved it."
The site features video highlights of some of McCaffrey’s most memorable plays, a running counter of all of his statistics, quotes praising his performance and a game-by-game breakdown of his spectacular season.
McCaffrey has rushed for 1,207 yards, caught 28 passes for 325 more and has gained 887 as a dangerous punt and kickoff returner. Throw in eight TDs he has scored and another he threw last week at Colorado and it’s no surprise a player who never had more than 12 offensive touches in a game last year as a freshman has been one of the breakout performers this season.
"We’ve known that guy has been special since the day he came to fall camp last year," Stanford linebacker Kevin Anderson said. "Just how good he is in general, how hard he works, it’s cool for us to see he’s finally getting the recognition he deserves."
While McCaffrey typically diverts praise to his offensive line or other members of the offense, his teammates are happy to see him get the spotlight.
Several of the Cardinal looked over the website at breakfast and liked what they saw and are ready to campaign.
"Give him the Heisman," receiver Michael Rector said. "He deserves it. He’s over here doing things that we haven’t seen around here for a long time. He’s a special player."
While McCaffrey has gotten less attention than many other candidates because of the lack of preseason hype and Stanford’s frequent late-night starts, he will get a big stage to end the season with a prime-time game Saturday against Oregon, followed by the Big Game against California, a Thanksgiving weekend clash with Notre Dame and a possible date in the Pac-12 championship the following week.
After watching Toby Gerhart finish second to Mark Ingram in an ultra-tight race in 2009, followed by Andrew Luck’s back-to-back second-place finishes the following two years, Shaw has become a bit of an expert in Heisman campaigns. He talked earlier in the year of seeing no reason to campaign before November and said the best way to win is play well late in the season and have your team win games.
McCaffrey has done just that as he passes some of the game’s greatest players on the all-purpose yardage list each week.
"This past week was one of those `ooh’ moments," Shaw said. "He passed Marcus Allen in total yardage. That made me stop in my tracks. This guy passed Marcus Allen for total yardage the year Marcus Allen won the Heisman. He’s averaging 20 yards a game more than Reggie Bush and we all know how special Reggie Bush was in this same conference. What he’s doing is special."