‘Fa­mous Jameis’ takes Heis­man

Florida State quar­ter­back a lock, de­spite sex as­sault com­plaint

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in New York

Jameis Win­ston left vot­ers no choice but to give him the Heis­man Tro­phy.

And like ev­ery other Florida State vic­tory this sea­son, it was a blowout. The quar­ter­back they call Fa­mous Jameis be­came the youngest Heis­man win­ner and the sec­ond straight fresh­man to win the tro­phy on Satur­day night, earn­ing US col­lege foot­ball’s most pres­ti­gious in­di­vid­ual award with a per­for­mance so dom­i­nant even a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion couldn’t de­rail his can­di­dacy.

“I can­not ex­plain the feel­ing that I have in­side right now,” Win­ston said. “I’m so over­whelmed. It’s awe­some.”

When his name was an­nounced, he popped from his seat and quickly made his way to his mom and dad for hugs and kisses. He smiled and laughed through most of his ac­cep­tance speech.

He talked about trust­ing in the “process” on the field and in life and “af­ter all the things I’ve been through this past month.” He got choked up talk­ing about his par­ents.

“When you see your mom and you see your dad and they’ve been strug­gling through this whole process and now you see a smile on their face, it com­forted me,” he said later.

Win­ston re­ceived 668 first­place votes and 2,205 points. He fin­ished 1,501 points ahead of Alabama quar­ter­back AJ McCar­ron for the sev­enth­largest mar­gin of vic­tory in Heis­man his­tory, de­spite be­ing left off 115 of the 900 bal­lots re­turned.

North­ern Illi­nois quar­ter­back Jor­dan Lynch was third, fol­lowed by Bos­ton Col­lege’s An­dre Wil­liams, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Auburn’s Tre Ma­son.

Manziel was the first fresh­man to win the Heis­man last year, and was try­ing to join Ohio State’s Archie Grif­fin as a two-time win­ner.

In­stead, Win­ston made it two red­shirt fresh­man win­ners in the 79-year his­tory of the Heis­man. He also be­came the youngest win­ner at 23 days short of 20.

The 19- year- old also was in­ves­ti­gated last month for a year-old sex­ual as­sault com­plaint, but no charges were filed and the case was closed four days be­fore Heis­man votes were due.

“I re­ally be­lieve that peo­ple ac­tu­ally just trusted me. Peo­ple ob­vi­ously saw us play, but that comes from my team, too,” Win­ston said.

Win­ston is the na­tion’s toprated passer and has led the top-ranked Seminoles (13-0) to a spot in the BCS cham­pi­onship game against No 2 Auburn on Jan 6, his birth­day.

The for­mer five-star re­cruit from Besse­mer, Ala., made col­lege foot­ball look easy from his very first game. On La­bor Day on na­tional tele­vi­sion, Win­ston went 25-for-27 for 356 yards and four touch­downs in a vic­tory at Pitts­burgh.

“I can’t ex­plain how truly in­tel­li­gent he is,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He al­ways wanted to know why he had suc­cess or why he had fail­ure so he could ei­ther re­peat it or fix it.”

There wasn’t much fail­ure on the way to be­com­ing the third Seminoles quar­ter­back to win the Heis­man. The last was Chris Weinke in 2000.

Win­ston and Florida State were cruis­ing to­ward an un­de­feated sea­son when news broke of an un­re­solved sex­ual as­sault com­plaint against him made to the Tal­la­has­see Po­lice Depart­ment last De­cem­ber.

The dor­mant case was handed over to the state at­tor­ney’s of­fice for a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion. A fe­male stu­dent at Florida State ac­cused Win­ston of rape. Win­ston’s at­tor­ney said the sex was con­sen­sual.

Dur­ing three weeks of un­cer­tainty, Win­ston con­tin­ued to play sen­sa­tion­ally, while other con­tenders stum­bled or failed to dis­tin­guish them­selves.

If vot­ers were look­ing to Manziel or McCar­ron or Lynch or Wil­liams or even Mar­cus Mar­i­ota of Oregon to give them a good al­ter­na­tive to Win­ston, it didn’t hap­pen.

The Heis­man Trust mis­sion state­ment says: “The Heis­man Me­mo­rial Tro­phy an­nu­ally rec­og­nizes the out­stand­ing col­lege foot­ball player whose per­for­mance best ex­hibits the pur­suit of ex­cel­lence with in­tegrity.”

It’s a state­ment that has put the Heis­man in awk­ward sit­u­a­tions be­fore.

In 2010, Cam Newton played the sea­son un­der the cloud of an NCAA in­ves­ti­ga­tion and le­gal squab­bles, but like Win­ston, there was no doubt he was the best player and he won the award.

Reg­gie Bush had his 2005 Heis­man stripped af­ter the NCAA de­ter­mined he had vi­o­lated its rules dur­ing that sea­son.

JULIO CORTEZ / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Florida State quar­ter­back Jameis Win­ston kisses the Heis­man Tro­phy on Satur­day in New York. Win­ston, 19, is the youngest win­ner of the tro­phy and the sec­ond straight player to win the pres­ti­gious award in his first year of col­lege.

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