Ju­nior McCaffrey to en­ter the draft

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Nicki Jhab­vala

Stan­ford star run­ning back and 2015 Heis­man Tro­phy run­ner-up Chris­tian McCaffrey an­nounced Wed­nes­day that he will forgo his se­nior sea­son and en­ter the NFL draft.

In a lengthy let­ter and a later news con­fer­ence at Stan­ford, McCaffrey said he knew it was time to en­ter the draft fol­low­ing the Car­di­nal’s fi­nal reg­u­lar-sea­son game against Rice. Af­ter re­ceiv­ing ad­vice from many — in­clud­ing his par­ents, for­mer Stan­ford run­ning back Toby Ger­hart and coach David Shaw — he made it of­fi­cial.

“I’m ready. I just think I’m ready,” he said. “My body’s in the po­si­tion it needs to be in to go out there and play at the next level. I’ve had some suc­cess in my col­lege ca­reer, but af­ter talk­ing with Coach Shaw, talk­ing with my dad, talk­ing with a lot of other men­tors in my life, I just thought I’m ready to go.”

In his three years at Stan­ford, McCaffrey set mul­ti­ple in­di­vid­ual records, in­clud­ing the NCAA mark for most all-pur­pose yards in a sea­son (3,864 in 2015), and school records for most rush­ing yards (243) and all-pur­pose yards (461) in a game.

Af­ter his break­out sopho­more sea­son, McCaffrey was named the As­so­ci­ated Press’ Col­lege Foot­ball Player of the Year, Pac-12’s player of the year and win­ner of the Paul Hor­nung Award, given to the most ver­sa­tile player in the NCAA. He also fin­ished sec­ond in the Heis­man Tro­phy vot­ing, to Alabama run­ning back Der­rick Henry.

McCaffrey closed out his ju­nior sea­son with a team-high 1,603 rush­ing yards and 13 touch­downs to go with 310 re­ceiv­ing yards and three touch­down catches. Ear­lier this month, he was voted as the team’s 2016 MVP.

“You look at the de­ci­sion and the rea­son why you would leave, and for me, it’s a fi­nan­cial de­ci­sion,” Shaw said. “Can a young man like this who’s highly re­garded, can he raise his stock? And the an­swer is no. The guy has had two of the best years in the his­tory of col­lege foot-

ball, the best sin­gu­lar year in the his­tory of col­lege foot­ball, with­out de­bate. There’s no de­bate about it. It’s the best year ever he had last year.

“What he’s done here at Stan­ford is jaw-drop­ping. It’s awein­spir­ing. It’s up there with Andrew Luck and John El­way and Jim Plun­kett — guys that have done phe­nom­e­nal things. On top of him be­ing ready, be­ing healthy, be­ing ex­cited about (get­ting) ready to go, there’s that ques­tion of well, if he came back (to Stan­ford), could he go higher? I think he’s done all that you can do at the col­lege foot­ball level. I think he’s men­tally, phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally pre­pared for this next step and we are ex­cited for him.”

In his three years at Stan­ford, McCaffrey has led the Car­di­nal to three bowl games, in­clud­ing the Sun Bowl against North Carolina on Dec. 30 in El Paso, Texas, and last Jan­uary’s Rose Bowl vic­tory over Iowa. McCaffrey was named the game’s of­fen­sive MVP af­ter record­ing 368 all-pur­pose yards, a Rose Bowl record.

McCaffrey said he chose to an­nounce his de­ci­sion Wed­nes­day to avoid fur­ther dis­trac­tion as his team pre­pares for their fi­nal game this sea­son.

“It’s the kind of per­son he is,” Shaw said. “He doesn’t want to an­swer the ques­tion and have his team­mates an­swer the ques­tion for the next three weeks. Do it now, get it out of the way, and I guar­an­tee you he walked out of here just now and started think­ing about North Carolina.”

The for­mer Valor Chris­tian stand­out and sec­ond-el­dest son of for­mer Bron­cos great Ed McCaffrey and for­mer Stan­ford soc­cer star Lisa McCaffrey, Chris­tian is al­ready ranked by mul­ti­ple out­lets as a pro­jected first-round pick in next year’s draft.

Although he plans to re­turn to Stan­ford at some point to com­plete his de­gree in com­mu­ni­ca­tions, his fo­cus af­ter the bowl game will shift to­ward train­ing for the NFL scout­ing com­bine and Stan­ford’s pro day.

The hope he had as a young kid watch­ing his fa­ther play with the Bron­cos will soon be a re­al­ity.

“I love play­ing foot­ball, and a dream of mine since I was 6 years old, ever since they asked ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ is an NFL player,” McCaffrey said. “It’s right in front of me and it’s an op­por­tu­nity that I couldn’t pass up.”

Marcio Jose Sanchez, The As­so­ci­ated Press

Stan­ford run­ning back Chris­tian McCaffrey closed out his ju­nior sea­son with a team-high 1,603 rush­ing yards and 310 re­ceiv­ing yards, along with 16 TDs.

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