From the moment redshirt freshman Jameis Winston took over as Florida State's starting quarterback this season, his skills and leadership were unquestioned. He led blowout after blowout on the way to a 13-0 record, the No. 1 ranking and a berth in the BCS title game against Auburn.
So it came as no surprise that Winston blew away the field in similar fashion to win the 79th Heisman Trophy Saturday night at the Best Buy Theater in Manhattan. At 19, Winston is the youngest winner in Heisman history and the second straight redshirt freshman to win the award. Winston is Florida State's third Heisman winner behind quarterbacks Chris Wenke in 2000 and Charlie Ward in 1993.
"I cannot explain the feeling that I have inside right now," Winston said. "I'm so overwhelmed. It's awesome."
Winston totaled 2,205 points, including 668 first-place votes, and won by a 1,501-point margin that was the seventh largest ever. Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron (704 points, 79 first-place votes) was second and Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch (558, 40) was third.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (421, 30), last year's Heisman winner, was fifth.
Winston's fairy-tale season threatened to come unraveled when reports surfaced in early November that he faced an allegation of sexual assault dating to December 2012. Florida's state attorney, Willie Meggs, undertook an investigation that found DNA evidence linking Winston to the complainant, but he concluded there was not enough evidence to proceed with a prosecution.
Possibly as a result of that controversy, Wilson's name was left off 115 of the 900 Heisman ballots that were returned. "God bless them," Winston said of the voters who ignored him. "Everyone has an opinion. It's a numbers game, and I had the majority vote."
Asked if the Heisman results gave him a sense of vindication in the wake of the controversy, Winston said, "Obviously, this is a great feeling, but I really don't want to talk about all that right now because this is a moment that I will cherish for the rest of my life."
At the same time, Winston was emotional in describing what winning the award means to him and his parents. "I was proud," Winston said. "When I was giving my speech, I saw my mom's and dad's eyes, and they felt so proud. When you see your mom and your dad and they've struggled through this whole process and you see a smile on their face, it comforted me."
As the vote indicated, there was little doubt about the best college player on the field this season. Winston ranked No. 1 in passing efficiency in the nation with a 190.1 rating after completing 67.9 percent of his passes for 3,820 yards and 38 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions.
In his season-opening Monday night debut against Pitt, Winston exploded on to the scene by completing 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns.
He followed that with 444 yards and four TD passes in a 51-14 blowout of then-No. 3 Clemson, and aside from a 14-point win over Boston College, FSU won every other game by at least 27 points.
As Manziel found out last year, winning the Heisman changes your life and brings an unexpected level of scrutiny. "The football field was his sanctuary," Winston said. "As the quarterback of your team, you don't have any time to worry about yourself.
"You have the Florida State Seminoles. You have to lead them because it's not about you. That's when you zone out, delete all the clutter, don't worry about the media stuff. You just focus on your team. That's how you're successful in life."