Jameis Winston became the youngest to win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, taking home college football’s biggest individual trophy.
The redshirt freshman quarterbacked a Florida State offense that averaged 53 points per game and dominated opponents en route to a 13-0 record and No. 1 ranking. Winston threw for 3,820 yards and 38 touchdowns, smashing both the ACC and Florida State single-season touchdown records. He has also completed 67.9 percent of his passes.
“This Heisman isn’t just for Jameis Winston, this is for Florida State,” Winston said during his acceptance speech. “I’m so blessed right now. It means so much to me. But I have one thing to say: at Florida State, if we’re going to do it then, we do it big then.”
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Winston is just weeks younger than Alabama running back Mark Ingram, who was nine days shy of 20 when he won the Heisman in 2009. He will turn 20 on Jan. 6, the same day that Florida State plays No. 2 Auburn in the BCS championship game in Pasadena, Calif.
“When you watch someone work so hard for something and be so team-oriented — not individual, it reinforces that the good things happen to the good guys,” said Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher, who was in attendance. “To know what he went through to get up there on that stage, sometimes it hits you. To me — of all the things — that’s why you coach, watching them grow and achieve the things you know they are capable of even when the odds are against them.”
He ran away with the Heisman, receiving 668 first-place votes. It was the fifth largest margin of victory in Heisman history, even though he was left off 115 ballots by voters who gave their 1-2-3 picks.
Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron finished second in a group of six finalists, which also included Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch, Auburn’s Tre Mason and Boston College’s Andre Williams.
Winston won the Walter Camp Award (top player) and Davey O’Brien (top quarterback) on Thursday night. On Saturday, he added the biggest individual honor, the 79th person awarded a Heisman Trophy.
“I’m so overwhelmed by this whole thing,” Winston said. “This is the first time I’m speechless in a long time.”
He becomes the third Heisman winner from Florida State, joining quarterbacks Charlie Ward (1993) and Chris Weinke (2000). Both of them were in attendance for the ceremony Saturday night, and Florida State has both the youngest and oldest Heisman winners (Weinke was 28 after playing six years of minor league baseball before playing college football at Florida State).
Winston had plenty of memorable plays in an unbeaten season that was consistent from start to finish. Among the notable moments:
— In his debut game, Winston completed 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards and a total of five touchdowns in a win at Pittsburgh on Labor Day.
— In September wins over Nevada and Bethune-Cookman, he escaped would-be sackers that appeared to wrap him up only to squirm free, roll out and find receivers in the end zone for touchdowns.
— At Boston College on Sept. 28, he threw for 330 yards but completed a 55-yard Hail Mary to Kenny Shaw as Florida State overcame a sluggish start.
— In a top-10 showdown at Clemson, against a raucous pro-Tigers crowd, Winston threw for a career-high 444 yards and three touchdown passes with a touchdown run.
— In another top-10 matchup at home against Miami, Winston completed 21 of 29 passes for 325 yards and a touchdown.
— In the regular-season finale, Winston passed for 327 yards and connected with Kelvin Benjamin for three touchdown passes.
— And a week ago, Winston led Florida State past Duke with three passing touchdowns and a 17-yard run that saw him go airborne to cross the pylon.
Winston pieced together one of the finest seasons of any quarterback. Now he will try to follow Ward’s path of winning a Heisman and a national title.
Congratulations for Winston rolled in via Twitter: