Winston, Donald, McCarron headline awards night

Jameis Winston walked away with another major award Thursday

night, the latest national prize to put on his mantle.

He might want to save a spot for the Heisman Trophy.

The Florida State star headlined a big night for the Atlantic

Coast Conference, winning the Davey O’Brien Award as the country’s

top quarterback at the annual College Football Awards Show at

Disney.

Winston also won the Walter Camp player of the year award in a

separate announcement.

The redshirt freshman, who led the top-ranked Seminoles to a

13-0 record and a berth in the BCS national championship game

against Auburn next month, said he continues to be humbled by every

accolade he’s received in recent weeks.

”It feels good. It’s an honor just to be here,” Winston said.

”I’m just glad to bring them back to Florida State.”

Winston hopes to become the fourth O’Brien Award winner in a row

to take home the Heisman in the same year. He would join current

NFL quarterbacks Cam Newton (2010) and Robert Griffin III (2011),

as well as Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel in 2012.

Now that a sexual assault complaint against him in Tallahassee,

Fla., has been closed without charges being filed, Winston is the

overwhelming favorite to win college football’s highest honor

Saturday night in New York.

Several players shared the hardware Thursday, though.

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron won the Maxwell Award for player

of the year, and Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald took home

two big prizes: the Chuck Bednarik Award for defensive player of

the year and the Outland Trophy as most outstanding interior

lineman.

The ACC led all conferences with four winners out of the nine

awards that were presented – two for Donald, one for Winston, and

the Doak Walker Award that went to Andre Williams of Boston College

as the nation’s best running back.

Williams joins Winston, McCarron and Manziel among the six

Heisman finalists.

Williams became the first Doak Walker winner from his school and

from the ACC. He is also the sixth 2,000-yard rusher to claim the

honor.

The Eagles’ senior actually missed graduation night Thursday to

be at the announcement. When he mentioned that on stage, he

received an ovation from the audience.

”It’s great. It feels like I was being honored as an athlete

and a student at the same time,” he said. ”That’s supposed to be

the mission, so it felt great.”

Though he said this week that he believed he had a season

deserving of his Heisman nomination, McCarron, a fifth-year senior

with three national championship rings at Alabama, looked visibly

taken aback when his name was called for the Maxwell Award.

”Super surprised,” McCarron said. ”I don’t think I’m the best

player out of those other two guys that were mentioned. But I can’t

thank them enough. It’s an honor to be here.”

McCarron was sometimes overlooked despite leading Alabama to an

11-1 season that left the Crimson Tide just short of a chance to

play for its third straight national championship. He threw for

2,676 yards and 26 touchdowns with five interceptions this

season.

Now, he prepares to make his first trip to New York for the

Heisman ceremony, and McCarron said his game plan is simple.

”I’m just going to enjoy the moment and live in the moment,”

he said.

Donald became the first defensive lineman to win the Bednarik

Award since Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh in 2009.

”Just to see all that hard work I put into football, it’s

paying off today,” Donald said. ”It’s exciting to bring it back

to the defensive side. But at the same time there’s a lot of

talented offensive linemen, so I’m just honored to be able to take

a turn.”

The two awards capped a big week for Donald, who also took home

the Bronko Nagurski award this week as the best defensive player in

the country, and the Lombardi Award given annually to the nation’s

top college lineman.

Other award winners Thursday were Michigan State senior

cornerback Darqueze Dennard (Jim Thorpe Award for top defensive

back), Oregon State junior receiver Brandin Cooks (Biletnikoff

Award for best wide receiver), and Memphis senior Tom Hornsey (Ray

Guy Award for top punter).

Winston wasn’t the only Florida State player to be honored.

Seminoles freshman Roberto Aguayo won the Lou Groza Award as the

nation’s best place kicker.

Winston stood and applauded as Aguayo walked up to accept the

trophy. Winston said no matter what happens at the Heisman ceremony

Saturday, moments like that are what he is savoring most right

now.

”That’s just how I am. I love my teammates,” Winston said.

”And I think they deserve that type of applause because they’ve

had an excellent season. And it’s not over yet.”

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