Jameis Winston ACC championship postgame interview

TALLAHASSEE — Jameis Winston walked out of Florida State’s team banquet Sunday evening fumbling the three or four plaques he held tightly in his arms.

The accolades and awards have come in droves for Winston this season.

FSU’s star quarterback is closer to the biggest prize of them all: the Heisman Trophy.

Winston was named one of six finalists for the award during ESPN's broadcast Monday night. The Heisman ceremony is Saturday in New York and Winston will almost assuredly take home the coveted trophy.


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“One hundred percent, he’s going to win. Like, there’s no way he’s not going to win,” said Chris Huston, who has polled Heisman voters and analyzed the field all season for HeismanPundit.com. “He’s as much of a cold-stone lock as you can get at this point.

“I think you’re going to see a huge drop off after his total. It’s sort of like looking at a giant with a bunch of dwarfs, evenly leveled off after him.”

Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, Auburn tailback Tre Mason, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron and Boston College tailback Andre Williams also were named Heisman finalists.

It is the first time since 1994 and only the second time in Heisman history six finalists have been invited to New York City for the award presentation. The state of Florida boasts two ties to the list. In addition to Winston, Mason is a graduate of Park Vista High in Palm Beach County.

Winston has enjoyed arguably the most impressive season ever for a freshman signal caller. He has completed 237-of-349 passes for 3,820 yards and 38 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, while setting Football Bowl Subdivision records for passing yards and passing touchdowns by a freshman. His passer efficiency rating of 190.1 is the highest in the country.

“I think when you talk about Heisman you talk about great players,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “I define great players like this: it's a great performance over a long period of time and the consistency which you play with, and I think the thing that he has done from start to finish.”

FSU entered this past offseason with plenty of experience on offense. The only pressing question was who would replace EJ Manuel, a first-round draft pick.

Winston went through a position battle with Jacob Coker, Clint Trickett and Sean Maguire. Trickett transferred to West Virginia and Winston out-dueled his counterparts to win the starting job.

With pieces in place all around him, Winston opened the season with a sensational performance against Pittsburgh on national television. He carved up the Panthers’ defense, going 25-of-27 for 356 and four touchdowns.

Winston-mania had begun.

“Big games. Big situations,” Fisher said. “…Whether it was the first game of the year which we were on TV outstanding to the last game and led us to a championship … When you talk about Heisman Trophy winners, how do they affect your teammates?

“He does that in a tremendous way, gives us great confidence and not only on offense, but on defense, too. I don't know if anybody in America has done that more so than he has, not only played well, performed well, but affected the performance of his team on a week in week out basis by how they play, how they prepare and the results of which they've gotten. So from that standpoint, I think Jameis is definitely out in front of that category.”

Winston would be only the second freshman to win the award. Manziel took home the Heisman last year as a redshirt freshman.

FSU already has two Heisman Trophy winners: FSU quarterbacks Charlie Ward (1993) and Chris Weinke (2000).

Winston and the No. 1 Seminoles (13-0) take on No. 2 Auburn (12-1) in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 6.