Stanford football has had its share of great college players and whether or not they’ve gone on to continue that success in the NFL, they have left us speechless and always questioning us as fans if we would ever see someone with their caliber again. Now, depending on your era, you can argue that the greatest Stanford football player of all-time was Ernie Nevers, Jim Plunkett, John Elway, Andrew Luck, or even Kevin Hogan but one player who might fit the mold with all of these players and fight for that spot on the Mount Rushmore of Stanford football players is Christian McCaffrey.
McCaffrey will play his last game in a Stanford uniform on December 30th in the Sun Bowl but rather than get that sinking feeling that we lost another great Stanford player that we may never see again, let’s look back on the top-10 moments that Christian had at Stanford and while these could vary for other fans or Christian himself, they will be what I remember him for.
10: In the 2014 season opener and first career game for “The White Mamba”, he would go on to make the first reception in his career. That reception was not any ordinary reception but a 52-yard touchdown strike. McCaffrey also returned three punts for 60 yards and had three tackles on special teams in his debut…. Yes, he truly could do it all from Day 1.
9: 2 months later, Stanford would take on Oregon State and even though McCaffrey had a great first game, it was his only touchdown to date and only had 8 carries going into this game. This game however was the reception that put his talents on notice. McCaffrey would have a 41-yard touchdown reception but it was more than just that. McCaffrey would break an ankle and break away from everyone. That type of speed was not normal at Stanford but it would soon become the regular.
8: Foster Farms Bowl 2014 was a cold, cold day. It was against an average at best Maryland and Stanford was coming into the game with momentum from the season but was a total letdown coming off of back-to-back Rose Bowl appearances. Stanford would go on to win 45-21 as McCaffrey would lead the team in rushing yards and while he was not the focal point of the game nor the season, he was getting ready to start the show.
7: THE LETDOWN IN EVANSTON. Coming into the year, McCaffrey was the Robin to Kevin Hogan. He was the sidekick and was going to be a crucial piece in getting Stanford back to playing for conference championships… Only he got stuffed and had a turnover as well. McCaffrey knew that his 171 all-purpose yards were not enough and he needed to hit a gear few of us had ever seen.
6: DESTROYING THE DAM. Coming off a great game against USC, Christian turned it up a notch a week later as he would go for over 200 yards rushing and officially put the country on alert as he showed the country he didn’t care what you thought about him, he was one of the best RUNNING BACKS in America.
5: Stanford-UCLA 2015 was almost as good as watching Hamilton live. McCaffrey would put on a show as he rushed for 243 yards and 4 touchdowns on only 25 carries and had 2 kick returns for 122 yards. His best play of the night wasn’t even a touchdown and with the score only 7-3 Stanford, his 96-yard kickoff would sum up the night to come.
4: McCaffrey versus Cal comes in as a two-parter on this list. In 2015 and 2016, McCaffrey had 476 yards rushing, 5 total touchdowns, and now holds the record for all-purpose yards and rushing yards in Big Game history. Cue up the kickoff touchdown by Stanford’s own Dave Flemming and you can tell how special he was to watch as even broadcasters love special talent.
3: Pac-12 Championship game was something special. McCaffrey was going to lose the Heisman a week later but this game alone should always be remembered as the game he literally did it all. McCaffrey broke Barry Sanders all-purpose record, the record that was considered one of the greatest records in all of sports, collegiate or professional. McCaffrey would go on to have over 400 all-purpose yards with a touchdown rushing, receiving, and passing. This victory was not just to get to the Rose Bowl but it was over USC.
2: 2016 Rose Bowl was post-Heisman and while McCaffrey would only say positive things about his team and how losing out on the Heisman wouldn’t play a big part in his game, he lied. McCaffrey played so well I am sure there are still people in the state of Iowa who would rather see Freddy Krueger than Christian McCaffrey ever again. It wasn’t just that he broke every record but it was how he did it. Besides the ol’ touchdown on the first play routine, he left jock straps and ankles all over the field and put himself in Stanford lore.
1: Thanksgiving weekend against Rice wasn’t a great thing. There were few fans, few students, and it was just another game. To Christian, it would be his last game played at Stanford Stadium and he wanted to put on one last show for the people he loves so much in this world. McCaffrey would go for over 200 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns and while it would have been nice to know if it was officially his last home game, I think he knew that and he has always wanted to be the best on the field but he is never one to take the spotlight from his teammates so he didn’t tell anyone but his family because that is what Stanford men and women do.
Christian McCaffrey will continue to be scrutinized as he enters into the NFL world and from what I have noticed about him in the last 3 years is keep telling him he can’t do something… He’ll prove you wrong.