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Winston humbled by Heisman talk, awards attention PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 9:00 PM

Associated Press

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The first time Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston ever thought about winning the Heisman Trophy, he was a 12-year-old kid playing video games.

“Playing NCAA 2006 was the first time I was aware of the Heisman,” he said Wednesday. “When you could create a player and do the ‘Road to Glory’ and you could get the Heisman.”

Now that road could end with him holding the real thing, and several other big awards.

Winston is the overwhelming favorite to win the award now that a sexual assault complaint against him in Tallahassee has been closed without charges being filed.

Winston enters today’s College Football Awards Show at Disney nominated for two of the night’s top awards — the Maxwell Award for the nation’s top player and the Davey O’Brien quarterback award. He joins Texas A&M quarterback and reigning Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, as well as Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, who are both nominated for the same awards.

The now 19-year-old Winston described the week since Florida State secured its spot in the BCS national championship game as a whirlwind but acknowledged he goes into college football’s version of awards season humbled even as a huge Heisman favorite.

“Obviously, all the Heisman stuff, I really admire the people that have voted for me and all that stuff,” Winston said. “So, like I said, it’s overwhelming to me.”

Should Winston claim the Heisman, it would be the second consecutive year that the award went to a freshman.

Though that would also mean his name isn’t called, McCarron said it would be a feat that would not be derided by the fifth-year senior, who just missed a shot at leading Alabama to a third consecutive national championship.

“It doesn’t make me feel any way. I’m happy for those guys,” he said. “Johnny’s one of my good friends. Jameis, I’d be happy for him, too. I don’t have any hatred against anybody, or against the Heisman committee or whoever votes on it. They’re going to vote how they’re going to vote.

“I’m happy and like I said, I go home at night and I can pull out my three national championship rings and smile pretty big and be pretty happy. I don’t need an individual award to tell me what I’ve achieved.”

Still, he said the invitation to New York, which will be his first trip to New York, is something he will savor.

“Of course it made me feel good. I kind of smiled, proved a lot of people wrong. But I also feel like I earned it and I deserve it,” McCarron added. “I think if you look at…the three years of me starting, I’d put my numbers up (against) anybody in the country…What, 13 interceptions my whole three years starting? I mean, a lot of guys throw that in one year. I feel like I’ve taken care of the ball, I’ve done all the right things on and off the field.

“So if the award goes by their mission statement, I feel like I fit it pretty well.”

Wednesday was also a lot more low key this time around for Manziel, who had his hopes of a Heisman repeat clouded by less than stellar performances late in the year and four losses by the Aggies.

Though he’s granted a vote this year as a Heisman winner, Manziel said he was “going to follow the Heisman Trust” and not reveal his vote but added he didn’t vote for himself in first or second place.

“It’s a possibility,” Manziel said of the chances of seeing consecutive freshmen win. “I guess we’ll find out on Saturday. But it’s crazy to have that long of a barrier and then potentially we could have two back-to-back. So definitely a neat deal, though.”

While there is lots of intrigue about whether he could enter the NFL draft after the season ends, Manziel said he will take time after the season to discuss it with his mentors and coaches but likes his readiness.

“In my mind, I feel like I’m playing for the most part at a high level,” he added. “I’m putting the ball where I want it to be, and I’m throwing it with a lot of velocity. So in my mind, I think I am.”

As for Winston, he said he hasn’t started to envision holding the Heisman at the end of the week.

“It would be an honor, man,” Winston added. “If that happens, just to look in the stands and see my family and see my coach, and say ‘Hey, I made you happy. I made your proud.’ It’s not really for me. It’s for my family and my teammates.

“My teammates, they’re going to like that, because my teammates want me to get it and my family, of course they want me to get it. So it’s more about them than me.”

McCarron keeps pledge with Heisman trip

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — McCarron has helped Alabama reach several prime destinations, from New Orleans to Miami and Southern California.

Now the third-ranked Crimson Tide’s quarterback, known for national titles and winning 12 times for every loss, gets to see New York for the first time — just the way he wanted.

“I’m a huge Yankees fan and I said I would never go to New York unless I was invited for the Heisman or for draft day,” McCarron explained. “So one of those dreams came true. It’s just a cool moment to be a part of.”

The NFL draft remains months away but McCarron is one of six Heisman Trophy finalists invited to Saturday night’s ceremony.

In addition to Winston and Manziel, McCarron will be joined by fellow quarterback Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois. Auburn tailback Tre Mason and Boston College tailback Andre Williams are also finalists.

McCarron is the one candidate largely judged by a career that stands as perhaps the best among Alabama quarterbacks, a group that includes Joe Namath, Bart Starr and Ken Stabler.

McCarron is 36-3 with two national titles as a starter and three during his five years on campus. He holds Alabama’s career marks for passing touchdowns and yards and total offense.

As a senior, McCarron has thrown for 2,676 yards with 26 touchdowns against five interceptions, while completing a career-best 67.6 percent of his passes. He won the Johnny Unitas Award as the nation’s top senior quarterback.

McCarron and the Tide fell short of another title shot with a 34-28 loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl on Chris Davis’ 109-yard, last-play return of a missed field goal. He’ll finish his career in the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma instead of a return trip to Pasadena, Calif.

McCarron isn’t fretting over the way the regular season ended.

“I know this state and the South itself is a little crazy about football but I feel like I keep it in a good perspective. It’s a game,” he said. “When it’s over and done with, I know what I left out on the field and I feel like I played one of my hardest games. We just fell short. Nothing you can do. You’ve got to move on and live life and be happy because life’s way too short to sit back and think about what you should have done and be mad about it.”

He’s at least New York bound, along with his parents, girlfriend Katherine Webb, younger brother and teammate Corey and an uncle and cousin.

Pretty much the usual crew that are there to greet him after every game, win or, less often, lose.

For Lynch, big prize still out there in Heisman

DEKALB, Ill. — For Lynch, one big prize is still out there.

Northern Illinois’ star quarterback will find out Saturday in New York if he’s the Heisman Trophy winner.

“I don’t think it will all sink in until I actually give it time to sink in and really look back,” Lynch said. “I don’t think that will happen until after this season and after the last game.”

Lynch led No. 24 Northern Illinois (12-1) to within a victory of a second straight BCS berth after making the Orange Bowl last season.

That possibility got doused with a 20-point loss to Bowling Green in the Mid-American Conference championship game but the big prize still is out there for a senior who set the major-college rushing record for yards rushing by a quarterback.

Lynch finished seventh in the Heisman voting last year in his first season as a starter while the Huskies became the first MAC team to land in a BCS game. But with a chance to crash the party again, the Huskies came up short.

They have a date with Utah State in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego after being knocked out of the BCS running with that loss to Bowling Green last week, a game in which Lynch ran for 126 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 219 yards and a score. He also had two interceptions, including one in the fourth quarter that led to a TD. But despite the loss, there’s no denying what Lynch has accomplished.

He’s completed just over 63 percent of his passes this season while breaking his own rushing record for a major college quarterback with 1,881 yards. He ranks fourth in total offense (351 yards per game) and became only the fifth player in NCAA history with at least 20 rushing and 20 passing touchdowns in a season.

Is it enough to beat out Winston and Manziel, not to mention fellow finalists McCarron, Mason and Williams?

No MAC player has won the Heisman and the only others to be invited to the ceremony were Marshall quarterback Chad Pennington and wide receiver Randy Moss.

“I’m not going there to come in last place or second place,” Lynch said. “I’m going there to win.”

Win or lose, it’ll be a memorable trip.


Huge game propels Auburn’s Mason to New York


AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn coaches kept checking on the sidelines: How is Tre?

Carry after carry, touchdown after touchdown, Tre Mason tirelessly demonstrated in the Southeastern Conference championship game against Missouri that he could handle the load for the second-ranked Tigers.

“Tre had that look on his face,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “In between series, I’d go ask him, ‘You OK?’ He said, ‘Coach, keep giving it to me. We’re going to win the SEC championship.’ He had that look in his eyes. We weren’t going to take him out unless he took himself out.”

Mason delivered as promised. The junior tailback carried Auburn (12-1) to a national title shot against Florida State with 46 rushes, 304 yards, four touchdowns and two Heisman poses.

That marathon performance in the Georgia Dome came a week after the 5-10, 205-pound Mason ran 29 times for 164 yards against Alabama’s normally unyielding defense. Delivering on those huge stages carried into the national spotlight a tailback often overshadowed in the SEC by players like Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon.

Mason had largely floated under the national radar,and was only a preseason second-team All-SEC pick. A week earlier, Malzahn said quarterback Nick Marshall “should be in the mix” for the Heisman. Mason vaulted past his teammate.

Twice a 1,000-yard rusher, he became an overnight sensation.

Bo Jackson, Auburn’s 1985 Heisman winner, gave him high praise after the performance.

Mason is chasing down Jackson’s records. His 1,621 rushing yards, sixth-best nationally, are 165 yards behind Jackson’s record set during the Heisman season. Mason’s 22 rushing touchdowns are one behind the SEC record set by Florida’s Tim Tebow en route to the 2007 Heisman.

Mason, who also returns kicks, has already set the school mark with 2,137 all-purpose yards for the nation’s top rushing team.

“I don’t want to say I expected it but I’ve worked toward it,” said Mason, who is considering skipping his senior season to enter the NFL draft. “There’s a lot of goals and dreams that I have. I remember saying my goal at the beginning of the season was 1,500 yards. And people said, Oh, that’s too much. Whatever you put your mind to, you can do it. I’ve surpassed that and I’m looking forward to keep doing.”

He learned the mindset of aiming high from his parents, Tina and Vincent Mason. Vincent Mason is a member of the hip hop group De La Soul but Mason remembers living in New York with his grandmother before his father’s music career took off.

He demurs when asked if he’s now the most famous person in his family: “Nah, my dad has a lot more experience than me. He’s a legend.”

Mason wasn’t even in the Heisman conversation until the final two games. He ran for 1,002 yards as a sophomore but split carries with Corey Grant and Cameron Artis-Payne — not to mention 1,000-yard rusher Marshall — early in the season.

Three games in, he had 206 yards and two touchdowns.

Mason, who also scored on a 100-yard kickoff return in the opener against Washington State, has picked good times to shine. In four games against Top 10 teams, Mason has averaged 194.5 yards and scored eight touchdowns.

Last Updated on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 9:34 PM

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