On Saturday night, the Heisman Trust will announce the 2015 winner of the most famous trophy in college sports. The Stanley Cup may be more recognizable but to those of us that consume college football, the Heisman Trophy takes a backseat to no one.
The Texans have had two Heisman winners play for them since the inception of the franchise in 2002. Ron Dayne, the 1999 Heisman winner and all-time leading career rusher in college history, played for the Texans for two years in 2006 and 2007. He led the Texans in rushing in both years, his final two years in the NFL.
Former USC star quarterback Matt Leinart was also in Houston for two years in 2010 and 2011. He didn't play in 2010 as he backed up Matt Schaub the entire season, but when Schaub's 2011 season was ended, Leinart took over as the starter. For a half. Just prior to halftime, Leinart broke his collarbone, ending his season and career as a Texan.
No former Heisman winners are on the current roster, but back in 2012, Jadeveon Clowney finished sixth in the Heisman voting. He even received four first place votes as a sophomore and that was even before the Hit Heard 'Round the World.
Perhaps there's a future Texan in New York for this year's announcement. It's a three-star race on Saturday night and one finalist began his chase for a future Heisman on a night in which he ran smack dab into the Texans in 2005. Well, to be exact, one Texan.
A big, hairy one.
When Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey was a wee lad, playing Pop Warner football in the Denver area, his team was asked to play during halftime of a Denver Broncos game. Young Christian was the focus of one defender, in particular, that night, one wearing a familiar No. 1 jersey. Early in the contest, McCaffrey was handed the ball on a reverse and his little nine year old legs were pistons firing at top speed.
But, one defender was between him and the end zone.
TORO, the Texans legendary mascot.
As you can see above, McCaffrey turned the corner and put a juke move on TORO. Our favorite mascot was left grasping air. McCaffrey, flashing the speed that would make him a Heisman finalist a decade later, sped to the end zone for six points.
What would've happened had TORO made that tackle? Would McCaffrey had grown up to be the outstanding star that he became for the Stanford Cardinal?
Luckily, we never found out as McCaffrey grew to become THE star for the Rose Bowl-bound Cardinal in 2015. He, along with Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson and Alabama running back Derrick Henry, are all in New York for the presentation on Saturday night. Trust me when I say there'll be at least one Texan cheering for McCaffrey to win.