FSU QB Jameis Winston named ACC Player of the Year

Florida State redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston has been named the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year, the first underclassman in the league’s 61-year history to receive the award.

Winston was the choice of 47 of the 65 ballots by media that cover the ACC. Boston College running back Andre Williams placed second (13), followed by Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald (four) and Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd (one).

“I’m very honored to win this award,” Winston said. “I want to thank the coaches and my teammates who have made this possible. The season isn’t over yet, though. We just need keep improving and stay focused.”

Donald was voted the 2013 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, while Winston picked up the ACC Offensive Player of the Year award.

Winston becomes the fifth Seminole to be named the ACC Player of the Year and the first since Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke in 2000. The other Florida State winners were quarterback Charlie Ward (1992 and ’93), quarterback Danny Kanell (1995) and defensive end Andre Wadsworth (1997).

A native of Bessemer, Ala., Winston has led No. 1 Florida State to a 12-0 record and the Seminoles are a win away from playing for the BCS national title. Florida State will face No. 20 Duke (10-2) on Saturday night for the ACC championship.

“They are very crafty,” Winston said of Duke’s defense. “They do a lot of things great that put teams in bad situations. We have to be on top of our game.”

Winston said the Seminoles have accomplished plenty of goals — going undefeated in the regular season and being state champion. Next up is ACC champion.

“When your team has the same goal in your mind, you become hungry for it,” Winston said. “You don’t become lackadaisical. That’s the mentality that we created. … It’s a two-game season now. We got to eat. We got to work every day. We are even preparing harder.”

Winston leads the ACC in passing yards (3,490) and has set a school record with 35 passing touchdowns. He is also first nationally in passing efficiency (192.6).

He is a finalist for the Maxwell, O’Brien and Manning Awards. And Winston could be named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy next week. Winston is listed as the Heisman front-runner in straw polls by USA Today and Heismanpundit.com.

The Seminoles average 53.7 points per game, which is second in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Florida State scored 40 or more points in its first 11 games before winning 37-7 over Florida on Saturday.

While Winston likes to look downfield, he says his biggest improvement from the start of the season has come from checking down and completing passes to Florida State’s tailbacks.

“Lately, I’ve been throwing to the backs a lot,” Winston said. “As a football player and as an athlete, I don’t think there’s ever a time when you can say you made it. You have to get better every time.”

Contact Bob Ferrante at bobferrante17@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bobferrante.

OVERALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State (47)
Andre Williams, RB, Boston College (13)
Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh (4)
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson (1)

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State (44)
Andre Williams, RB, Boston College (19)
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson (2)

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh (44)
Nikita Whitlock, NT, Wake Forest (10)
Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State (8)
Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB, Boston College (2)
Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State (1)