New York — Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, the redshirt freshman phenom who led the Seminoles to the No. 1 ranking and a berth in the BCS National Championship Game, was named Monday as one of six finalists for the Heisman Trophy.
The other finalists for college football’s biggest individual award are Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, Auburn running back Tre Mason, Boston College running back Andre Williams and 2012 winner Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M quarterback.
The winner will be announced during a ceremony in New York on Saturday.
A prosecutor announced last week that Winston wouldn’t be charged in a sexual assault case stemming from events in December 2012, clearing him to finish the season.
He passed for 3,820 yards and 38 touchdowns, both FBS freshman records, and led the unbeaten Seminoles (13-0) to a win over Duke in the ACC Championship Game Saturday.
Florida State climbed to No. 1 in the BCS standings for the first time in 14 years and will play No. 2 Auburn for the national title on Jan. 6.
Quarterbacks Charlie Ward in 1993 and Chris Weinke in 2000 are the only FSU players to win the Heisman.
No Northern Illinois player has ever won the Heisman. Lynch’s Huskies were undefeated before losing Friday’s MAC Championship against Bowling Green, and the senior’s performance was seen as a less-than-ideal final chapter to a Heisman campaign despite 219 yards passing with a touchdown and 126 yards rushing with two more scores.
Lynch rushed for 1,881 yards, breaking his own FBS quarterback record, and passed for 2,676 while accounting for 45 total touchdowns.
“I have never been around someone who has 64 percent completion rate as a passer and has the rushing records that would be great for just a running back,” said Northern Illinois head coach Ron Carey of Lynch. “He can do both. He’s a special, special athlete and we were sure fortunate to get to coach him and have him on this team at the time we did.”
Last year, Manziel became the first freshman to capture the Heisman after a star-making season in which he set the SEC record for total offense. This season he combined for 4,418 yards passing and rushing with 41 total touchdowns.
Former Ohio State quarterback Archie Griffin remains the only player ever to win two Heismans, doing it in back-to-back seasons in 1974-75. Manziel’s win last year was the second for a Texas A&M player.
Mason, the SEC Offensive Player of the Year, was probably a longshot candidate before his performance in Saturday’s conference title game. The junior running back rushed for 304 yards and four touchdowns as the Tigers routed Missouri to lock up their BCS Championship Game berth.
After striking the Heisman pose several times during the game, Mason said winning the award has been a personal goal.
“It was always a dream, you know, growing up, wanting to win the Heisman,” said Mason, the son of a founding member of the seminal hip-hop group De La Soul. “I’m sure every kid that played football, that’s one of their dreams.”
Mason ran for 1,621 yards and 22 touchdowns for Auburn (12-1), including 164 yards and a score in the team’s Iron Bowl win over Alabama. Three Auburn players have won the Heisman, including Bo Jackson in 1985 and Cam Newton in 2010.
McCarron, who won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, has been a part of three national championship teams and owns a career record of 36-3 for Alabama. A steady leader, he passed for 2,676 yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior and would be only the second Crimson Tide player to win the award.
Williams had five 200-yard rushing games and led the nation with 2,102 yards on 329 carries. He left the team’s final regular-season game with an injury after gaining just 29 yards, but is expected to be OK for the AdvoCare V100 Bowl against Arizona on New Year’s Eve.
Doug Flutie was Boston College’s only Heisman winner in 1984.