NEW YORK – On Saturday night at the Best Buy Theater, Jameis Winston flashed his charismatic smile and accepted the 2013 Heisman Memorial Trophy Award presented by the Heisman Trophy Trust, adding another victory to the No. 1-ranked Florida State football team’s historic undefeated season.
The redshirt freshman quarterback from Bessemer, Ala., becomes the 79th recipient of the award given to the nation’s most outstanding college football player. He is just the second freshman to nab the honor, joining 2012 winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M. Winston is also the third Seminole to win the stiff-arm statue, entering the illustrious fraternity with 1993 winner Charlie Ward and 2000 honoree Chris Weinke.
At 19 years, 342 days old, Winston is now the youngest Heisman Trophy winner, too.
“I’m so overwhelmed right now,” Winston said. “It feels great to be part of the (Heisman) family. I just thank everyone with the Heisman Trust that allowed me to be in it. It feels great. I cannot explain the feeling that I have inside right now. I’m so overwhelmed. Like I said, it’s just awesome.”
Winston has had one of the most impressive seasons ever by a quarterback in college football history, leading Florida State to a 13-0 record and a spot in the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 6 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
When he wasn’t perfecting his “Houdini” act, escaping defensive linemen trying for the sack and zipping touchdown passes with pinpoint accuracy, Winston was inspiring his teammates like a veteran leader much older than his 19 years of age with pregame speeches such as the now famous “If we goin’ do it then, we do it big then” line before the Seminoles dominated then-No. 3 Clemson on the road in Death Valley.
Winston repeated that line at the end of his Heisman acceptance speech on Saturday night, a fitting end to a night that celebrated the best of the 2013 college football season in which the Florida State rookie quarterback was the brightest star.
He set the ACC and FBS freshman record for touchdown passes (38) and the freshman mark for passing yards (3,820), while leading the nation in pass efficiency rating (190.06).
He is a consensus All-American, the Walter Camp National Player of the Year and the Davey O’Brien Quarterback of the Year in addition to becoming the first freshman to capture the ACC Player of the Year award in the 61-year history of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“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.”
Winston opened the 2013 season and his career by completing the first 11 passes he threw in a nationally televised Labor Day evening game at Pittsburgh and never slowed down.
He tallied seven 300-yard passing games and threw three touchdowns in a game eight times. A seven-time ACC Rookie of the Week, Winston’s signature performance came at No. 3 Clemson where he led FSU to a 51-14 victory over the Tigers by throwing for career-best 444 yards and three touchdowns and added a rushing score.
He vaulted FSU into the National Championship Game by throwing for 330 yards and accounting for four total touchdowns to earn ACC Championship Game MVP honors in a 45-7 win over Duke.
Winston is the first freshman quarterback ever to lead his team to 13 wins.
“It was a blessing to be up on the stage with former Heisman winners,” Winston said. “What they have given to college football – hopefully I can be a role model just like them one day. I need to just keep getting better. I can’t allow this stop me from getting better or my team from getting better. I look forward to the future and I look forward to playing Auburn.”