Heisman goes to Florida State's Winston

Danny Aller, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston became the second straight redshirt freshman in college football history to win the season's most coveted individual honor on Saturday night when he was awarded the 2013 Heisman Trophy by a the fifth-largest margin in history at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City.
Winston, a native of Bessemer, Ala., and former Hueytown High School standout, received 668 votes and won in a landslide over the field. Alabama senior quarterback A.J. McCarron finished second with 79 votes.
"First of all, I'd like to thank God and the Heisman trustees and past Heisman winners for allowing this dream to come true," said Winston, a former five-star recruit who was the No. 1 high school quarterback prospect in the nation in 2011 who became the 79th winner of the Heisman.
"I trusted in the process (and) in my high school coach who came in and told me he was going to make me the best quarterback in the nation. Eventually, I got a scholarship and kept up my education ... I feel so blessed right now."
Finishing third in the voting was Northern Illinois senior quarterback Jordan Lynch, followed by Boston College senior running back and NCAA rushing leader Andre Williams.
Texas A&M sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel, who was the first freshman to win the honor last season, was fifth and Junior Tre Mason, Auburn's dynamic running back who will meet Winston for the BCS title in three weeks, finished sixth.
The 19-year-old Winston, who will turn 20 on Jan. 6 -- the same day the No. 1-ranked Seminoles (13-0) face No. 2 Auburn (12-1) for the BCS National Championship in Pasadena, Calif. -- became the youngest winner to join the Heisman Trophy club. Manziel turned 20 years old two days before he received the honor in 2012.
While becoming the first freshman in NCAA history to lead a team to a unbeaten record and 13 wins, Winston completed 237 of 349 passes for 3,820 yards with 38 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The passing yardage and passing touchdown totals are NCAA freshman records, and he is on track to break FBS' career record with a 190.6 passer efficiency rating.
Winston also rushed 77 times for 193 yards and four scores, leading the Seminoles to Atlantic Coast Conference championship and unbeaten conference record.
The biggest obstacle to Winston's Heisman candidacy was off-field uncertainty, but last week a Florida prosecutor announced that the quarterback would not be charged with sexual assault, despite accusations made against him by a Florida State student last December.
The accuser's attorney held a press conference on Friday morning -- a little more than 24 hours before the Heisman ceremony was to take place -- and called for the Florida State Attorney General to reopen the case and conduct an independent investigation of its handling.
But Florida Gov. Rick Scott's office issued a statement late Friday declaring that "no further action on this matter is required."
Possibly as a result of the situation which has dogged him for the last month, Winson was left off the ballot by 115 Heisman Trophy voters.
Winston addressed the matter in an interview with ESPN shortly before the award ceremony and again during his speech, saying over and over again, "I trusted in the process and the truth prevailed."
"I'm a family man. I love life. I love the college experience, but I've got to grow," said Winston, who turned and hugged his mother, Loretta, and father, Antonor, after he was announced as the winner. "I know I did nothing wrong, and I was eventually vindicated. I've just got to care for myself and get better every day."
Winston is FSU's third Heisman winner in program history, joining former quarterbacks Charlie Ward (1993) and Chris Weinke (2000).
McCarron, who kept Winston from sweeping college football's major postseason awards earlier this week when he was given the Maxwell Award while Winston won the Davey O'Brien Walter Camp awards, went 207-for-306 for 2,676 yards, 26 touchdowns and five interceptions. He led Alabama to back-to-back BCS national titles as a sophomore and junior, becoming the first QB to accomplish that feat in the 16 years of the BCS-era.
Lynch's candidacy was built largely on his legs rather than his arm. The NCAA's second-leading rusher ran 274 times for 1,881 yards -- an NCAA record for a quarterback -- and scored 22 times on the ground. Lynch completed 233 of 369 passes for 2,676 yards with 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He's the only player in college football history to rush for at least 1,500 yards and throw for 20 touchdowns in a season.
Doak Walker Award winner Williams -- whose Boston College team came the closest of any program to beating FSU this season before the Seminoles prevailed, 48-34 -- ran 329 times for 2,102 yards and 17 touchdowns to lead all of Division I.
Manziel threw for 3,732 yards on 270-for-391 passing, tossing 33 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions. Aside from the interception total, his passing stats were an improvement on 2012, but his rushing stats declined sharply. He ran for 686 yards and eight touchdowns on 133 carries this year after producing 1,410 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns on 201 carries last season.
Mason gained 1,621 yards on 283 carries, including a 304-yard, 46-carry game last Saturday in the SEC Championship game against Missouri. He scored four of his 22 rushing touchdowns against Mizzou.
But Saturday was all about Winston, who had one of the most prolific seasons ever for a quarterback -- freshman or otherwise -- and rewrote the record books for the NCAA, ACC and at Florida State this season.
Winston, a two-sport star for the Seminoles who also plays baseball, led one of the most potent offenses in college football this season with an average margin of victory of more than 42 points.
The 689 points put up by Winston and FSU's offense this season was an ACC record and leads FBS. With only the national title game against Auburn remaining, the Seminoles only are 28 points away from breaking the NCAA single-season scoring record.
Winston finished the regular season ranked in the FBS Top 10 in completion percentage, touchdown passes, passing yards, passing yards per game, yards per completion, points responsible for and points per game.
But he began and ended his Heisman moment on Saturday night by reminding viewers that none of his success would be possible without his faith, his family, his friends or his teammates.
"This is the first time I've been speechless in a long time," Winston said. "This Heisman isn't just for Jameis Winston, it's for Florida State. I love everybody in here. I'm so blessed right now. It means so much to me.
"But I've got one thing to say: At Florida State, if we going to do it then, then do it big then."

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