Derrick Henry called his shot.
On April 16, 2012, Henry – then a senior at Yulee High School in Yulee, Fla. – tweeted out “I’m gone win Heisman #Goals #DreamingBig!”
1,335 days later, Henry had to hold back tears as that dream finally was realized. The Alabama running back beat out Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson to take home the 2015 Heisman Trophy, college football’s most prestigious award given to the sport’s most outstanding player.
Henry finished with 1,832 total points. McCaffrey was second with 1,539 points and Watson was third with 1,165 points. Henry is the first running back to win the award since 2009, when fellow Alabama running back Mark Ingram beat out Stanford’s Toby Gerhart in the closest finish in Heisman history.
Henry had a record-setting season for the Crimson Tide. The junior broke fellow Heisman winner Herschel Walker’s 34-year-old SEC single-season record with 1,986 rushing yards and currently is tied for the conference record with 23 rushing touchdowns.
“It’s a dream come true,” Henry said of joining Walker in the pantheon of Heisman winners. “Just being mentioned with that name and being in the fraternity with these guys is a huge honor that I’m blessed to have.”
Just as he did all season long, Henry deflected praise for his exceptional season in the same way that he shook off would-be tacklers en route to the end zone.
“I have teammates and coaches and all the support staff, my family, everybody that has come and supported me and made an effort to get me to where I am today plus every day,” Henry said. “So I just want to thank them for me being able to make it this far.”
Most people would point to Alabama’s 30-16 win over LSU as Henry’s de facto “Heisman moment.” That’s when he rushed for 210 yards and three touchdowns while his Tigers counterpart – then-Heisman favorite Leonard Fournette – was held to 19 carries for 31 yards and a score.
But Henry made sure the rest of his team got their due for his success.
“I credit it all to the team,” Henry said, “All I’m trying to do is help the team win.”
And that selflessness hasn’t gone unnoticed in Tuscaloosa.
“I would say not anybody could represent the University of Alabama, our team, our program, in any more of a first-class way than what Derrick Henry has,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “Not just this year and winning the Heisman, but really his entire career.”
Saban was the head coach at Alabama when Ingram became the school’s first Heisman winner, and said that he couldn’t be happier to see Henry add his name to the list.
“These guys are like family to us,” Saban said. “I think it’s the feeling that any parent would get when their children do something really, really special. And this is about as special as it gets.”