Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston became the second straight freshman to win the Heisman Trophy as college football’s most outstanding player.
The award comes after a season in which Winston set freshman records with 3,820 passing yards and 38 touchdowns in leading the Seminoles to a 13-0 record and a berth in the sport’s national championship game.
Winston, 19, follows Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel as the second freshman winner in the 79-year history of the Heisman Trophy, the sport’s top individual award.
Winston is the third Florida State player to win the Heisman Trophy, joining quarterbacks Charlie Ward (1993) and Chris Weinke (2000). He’s the 12th quarterback in the past 14 years to receive the award.
A 6-foot-4, 228-pound redshirt freshman from Bessemer, Alabama, Winston was the nation’s top high school quarterback prospect in the class of 2012 and this year took over the Seminoles’ starting job after E.J. Manuel became the first quarterback taken in the 2013 NFL draft. In his college debut, Winston threw for 356 yards and four touchdowns, completing 25-of-27 passes in a 41-13 rout of Pittsburgh.
Winston finished as the highest-rated quarterback in the nation, helping direct a Seminoles offense that set school records for points, yards and touchdowns. Florida State could set a single-season record for points scored at college football’s top level with 28 in the Bowl Championship Series title game on Jan. 6 against Auburn University.
Winston had been linked to an alleged sexual assault in Tallahassee, Florida, since last year. On Dec. 5, state Attorney Willie Meggs said he didn’t find enough evidence to charge Winston.
Winston released a statement afterward saying he “never lost faith in the truth” and was excited to get back to helping Florida State’s football team achieve its goals. Two days later, Winston threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score in leading the Seminoles to a 45-7 rout of Duke and a second straight ACC title.
Other finalists for the Heisman Trophy were quarterbacks Manziel, Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois and AJ McCarron of Alabama, and running backs Tre Mason of Auburn and Andre Williams of Boston College.
The Heisman Trophy is named in memory of John Heisman, a former coach who as director of New York’s Downtown Athletic Club helped create the award in 1935. Heisman died from pneumonia less than a year later.