(Reuters) - University of Alabama running back Derrick Henry was named the winner of the 2015 Heisman Trophy on Saturday, the highest award in American college football.
Henry, who set a single-season record for rushing yards (1,986 yards on 339 carries) in the Southeastern Conference this year, beat out the two other finalists, Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson.
“Since I’ve been a kid it’s been a lifelong goal and a dream of mine and I‘m just so thankful,” the 21-year-old said at the presentation in New York
He also thanked his parents, describing his mother as his best friend and his father as his biggest fan.
“Anytime I was struggling you were always there for me,” he said. “To my dad, my number one fan, who kept me in sports, every game I play, he was always loud.”
He also invoked the memory of his former team mate Altee Tenpenny, who died in a car crash in October.
The Heisman Trophy, named after former player and coach John Heisman, is chosen by a vote of media members, former winners and fans.
Henry received 1,832 points, beating out McCaffrey (1,539) and Watson (1,165).
Previous winners of the award include O.J. Simpson (1968), Bo Jackson (1985) and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (2010).
The past two winners, Jameis Winston (2013) and Marcus Mariota (2014), are now starting quarterbacks in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford