ATLANTA — Alabama running back Derrick Henry was the biggest star of college football’s awards night, as he won the Maxwell Award, given to the college player of the year, and the Doak Walker Award given to the nation’s top running back.
The awards were presented for the first time at the College Football Hall of Fame on Thursday.
Also Thursday, Henry was chosen as the Walter Camp National Player of the Year.
Henry joined Trent Richardson, who won in 2011, as the only Alabama players to win the Doak Walker Award. Some other recent winners include Darren McFadden, Montee Ball and 2014 winner Melvin Gordon.
“This list is legendary,” Henry said. “I’m just thankful to be a part of it.”
Henry, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson were the finalists for the Maxwell Award and also are the finalists for the Heisman Trophy, to be presented on Saturday.
Watson won the Davey O’Brien Award given to the nation’s top quarterback.
Other award winners Thursday were: Stanford’s Joshua Garnett (Outland Trophy, given to the top interior lineman); Temple’s Tyler Matakevich (Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the nation’s defensive player of the year); UCLA’s Ka’imi Fairbairn (Lou Groza Award for the nation’s top kicker); Iowa’s Desmond King (Jim Thorpe Award for the nation’s best defensive back); Baylor’s Corey Coleman (Biletnikoff Award for nation’s outstanding receiver); Utah’s Tom Hackett (Ray Guy Award for nation’s top punter.
Also, former Marine hero Hank Goff of Concordia won the Sports Spirit Award. Former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer won the NCFAA Contribution to College Football Award.
On Wednesday, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney won the Home Depot Coach of the Year and Hunter Henry of Arkansas won the John Mackey Award for the nation’s outstanding tight end.
Also, Georgia receiver Malcolm Mitchell won the AFCA Good Works Team captain award for his community service and off-field contributions and the Campbell Trophy for academic success was presented to Oklahoma center Ty Darlington.
Henry rushed for 1,986 yards to break Herschel Walker’s Southeastern Conference single-season record and lead Alabama to the College Football Playoff. He ran for 189 yards and was picked as MVP in Alabama’s SEC championship game win over Florida.
Henry is considered the Heisman favorite. Mark Ingram of Alabama in 2009 was the last running back — and only Crimson Tide player — to win the Heisman.
Henry said his focus is on helping Alabama win the national championship. A spot in the national championship game will be on the line when Alabama plays Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 31.
Alabama lost to Ohio State in last year’s playoff semifinal in the Sugar Bowl.
“That taste from last year is still in my mouth,” Henry said. “That one really bothered us.”
Henry said having to face Alabama’s “relentless” defense helped him have success against other teams.
“Every day it’s a challenge going up against them,” he said.
Swinney said he is glad Watson is only a sophomore.
Swinney said Watson was a “very deserving” Davey O’Brien winner.
“I think they got it right,” Swinney said. “He’s special in every regard. … He’s more than just a great football player. He’s a great young man. This is just the beginning for him. An incredibly bright future. I’m glad we’ve got him back for at least another year.”
Swinney said he looked forward to joining Watson in New York at the Heisman presentation.
“I’m pumped,” Swinney said. “I’ve never sniffed the Heisman presentation.”