Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, the nation’s top-rated passer who led his team to college football’s title game in his first season, was named the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Saturday as the country’s best collegiate player.
Winston, 19, became the youngest player and second straight redshirt freshman to win the award, following Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Winston completed nearly 68 percent of his passes for 3,820 yards, 38 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Undefeated Florida State plays Auburn in the Jan. 6 Bowl Championship Series title game.
Winston won the 79th Heisman over the five other finalists invited to ceremonies in New York: Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, Auburn running back Tre Mason, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, Boston College running back Andre Williams, and Manziel.
The award came just nine days after a Florida prosecutor announced that Winston would not be charged in the alleged rape of a female student at Florida State, and a day after the woman’s attorney called for an independent investigation into the year-old case. Winston has maintained his innocence, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott says the case is closed.
“I trusted in the process,” Winston said, in accepting the award.
But the investigation dominated news coverage late in Winston’s debut season, when sportswriters were mulling their Heisman selections.
On Friday, Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel wrote that several recent recipients of the award have been “hounded” by off-field questions, and asked for guidance in the voting process.
Noting that the Heisman Trophy Trust states that the award “recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity,” Thamel wrote: “It’s time that the Heisman Trust provided more clarity about exactly what it wants voters to look for in a candidate.”
More than 900 voters, including 870 sports journalists and several dozen former Heisman winners, are eligible to cast ballots ranking their top three players.
Winston and Manziel are the only first-year players to win the award in the four decades since freshmen and redshirt freshmen (those who don’t compete their first year of school) have been allowed on varsity NCAA sports teams.
Manziel told reporters this week he didn’t vote for himself in either first or second place on his ballot.