FSU QB Jameis Winston said a family friend made him practice doing the Heisman pose when he played youth football.

NEW YORK — His voice cracking, Jameis Winston stood on the stage to accept the Heisman Trophy.

Winston, normally poised and polished Florida State quarterback, was so nervous that he had to shake some former Heisman winners’ hands several times before he started his speech. Winston looked down at his parents and almost cried. He then thanked his coaches from college and high school, and his teammates.

Then, finally, Winston was able to walk over to the Heisman Trophy. After a season filled with highs on the field and a month filled with turmoil off of it, he could finally clutch college football’s most prestigious prize.

“When I grabbed the trophy, I was like, ‘This is my trophy.’ It was like a little kid,” Winston said. “I didn’t even want to pick it up. I wanted to hug the trophy, because it was mine.”


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Winston was named the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Saturday during a ceremony in New York that was broadcast nationally on ESPN.

He was the second redshirt freshman and youngest player ever to earn the award.

As expected, Winston beat reigning Heisman winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, Auburn running back Tre Mason, Boston College running back Andre Williams and Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch.

He received 2,205 points. McCarron came in second place with 704 points, creating the fifth-largest margin of victory in the modern Heisman era, despite Winston being left off 115 ballots. His 668 first-place votes are 9th all time.

“This is the first time I’ve been speechless in a long time,” said the normally talkative Winston.

As a child, Winston used to dream about winning the Heisman. A family friend would urge him to strike a Heisman pose while playing youth football, but Winston said he “eventually grew out of that.”

Winston was more focused on the journey to the Heisman than the award itself. A two-sport athlete, Winston was often seen doing leg workouts for football on the same day he was expected to pitch for his high school baseball team. He knew it was preparing him for playing at the next level.

In his first year as a starter, Winston has helped guide FSU to a spot in the BCS National Championship Game, where the Seminoles will face off against Auburn. Winston has embraced his role as a team leader and his teammates have shown they were eager to follow.

“I was appointed to be a leader. Jameis has that natural ability to be a leader as a young guy,” FSU senior defensive back Lamarcus Joyner said a few days before the ceremony. “I noticed that on scout team … just seeing a guy making throws and doing things that [2012 starter and first-round NFL draft pick] EJ Manuel [would make.]. … To see a guy as a freshman doing that, I was like, ‘This is a special kid.’”

While he did not start the year on many Heisman watch lists, Winston quickly entered the picture after he threw for 356 yards and touchdowns on 25-of-27 passing (92.6 completion percentage) against Pitt in the season opener.

From that first game, the season has belonged Winston.

Winston did not maintain that torrid pace, but he continued to perform at a high level, accumulating 3,820 passing yards (10th nationally), 38 passing touchdowns (second nationally) and a 190.1 passing efficiency rating (first nationally).

More important, Winston led FSU to the only undefeated mark in the country.

All the while, the contenders vying for the Heisman faltered in big games. McCarron and Lynch saw perfect records come to an end in the final weeks of the season, while Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty and Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota fell out of the race thanks to losses in key games.

But Winston, who looked like a lock for the Heisman in early November, faced other obstacles en route to claiming college football’s biggest prize.

Reports surfaced in November that Winston was part of a sexual assault investigation. A former FSU student accused Winston of assaulting her in December 2012. His attorney maintained the encounter was consensual, a point her attorney continued to contest Friday.

Winston became part of a debate whether character should be considered during Heisman voting. The state attorney announced Dec. 5 he was not charging Winston and the assault investigation was closed, likely clearing one of Winston’s biggest Heisman hurdles.

“I mean this is a great feeling, but obviously nothing will come to the feeling of me being vindicated,” Winston said. “This is a moment where … I don’t really want to talk about that right now. This is a moment that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Winston has three years of eligibility remaining and could join Ohio State’s Archie Griffin as the only two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy.

FSU now has three quarterbacks who have won the Heisman Trophy. Charlie Ward won it in 1993 and Chris Weinke won in 2000.

“I’m young man, this is just the beginning. Those guys have laid down their legacy,” Winston said. “Those guys are some unique creatures and I’m just blessed to be following in their footsteps.”