LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston picked up one major award that could be the precursor to claiming college football’s biggest prize — the Heisman Trophy.
Winston won the Davey O’Brien Award on Thursday evening at the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards at Disney World.
The Florida State star beat fellow finalists Johnny Manziel and AJ McCarron for the honor as the top quarterback in the country. He becomes just the second redshirt freshman to win the award — Manziel won it in 2012 — and he joins Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke as the only Seminoles to win the award.
“It’s a honor, when you hear Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke and all the great quarterbacks that we’ve had here at Florida State, it makes me feel proud that I get to follow them,” Winston said. “It’s an honor just to be here, and I’m just glad to bring it back to Florida State.”
The win could be the first of many for Winston, who is one of six finalists for the Heisman Trophy award. The Heisman will be presented Saturday in New York. Six of the past seven Davey O’Brien Award winners have gone on to win the Heisman and Winston is the overwhelming favorite to win the award. He would be following in the footsteps of Ward and Weinke, becoming FSU’s third Heisman winner.
Earlier in the evening, Winston took home another honor: the Walter Camp Player of the Year award.
During the awards show, Winston was asked by ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi what he wanted people to know about the past month. Winston was linked to a sexual assault investigation during the past month, but the state attorney closed the case last week and opted not to file any charges against him.
“I just want people to know how much my family took from this, and my family, just watching everything go on,” Winston said. “And how my team just supported me through this whole thing. Of course, I know I did nothing wrong.”
Before the awards show, Winston was all smiles as he walked the red carpet event.
“It’s fun to be in their presence,” Winston said about meeting fellow award finalists Johnny Manziel and AJ McCarron.
Manziel said he briefly spoke with Winston and exchanged phone numbers. The conversation may have been brief, but the reigning Heisman Trophy winner did offer up some advice for the other five finalists for the Heisman.
“It’s a great experience and one that you won’t forget for the rest of your life,” Manziel said. “More than anything enjoy it.”
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said he was thrilled FSU’s Lamarcus Joyner, Roberto Aguayo and Winston were finalists for awards and could attend the show.
“I’m very proud of them and very excited for them,” Fisher said. “When you’re so committed to your team, the individual awards come to you when you are committed to your team.”
Winston came up short of a clean sweep, with Alabama’s McCarron claiming the Maxwell Award honoring the nation’s top college football player. McCarron said he was shocked he won the award.
The final award tally wasn’t going to hinder Winston’s good mood.
“I’m just enjoying the night,” Winston said. “It’s just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Aguayo takes Groza award
FSU’s Aguayo took home the Lou Groza Award presented by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission to the nation’s top placekicker.
“It’s a great feeling,” Aguayo said after the win. “It’s just a blessing and it makes you work that much harder this offseason so I can be back here again.”
The kicker set the FBS record for most consecutive extra points in one season (90) while leading the nation with 147 points.
Aguayo, who played high school football in the Central Florida area, was happy to win the award so close to home.
“I live down the road — 35-40 minutes from here — now coming back and winning it here means a lot,” Aguayo said. “A lot of people from my hometown were rooting for me and it means a lot to bring it back.
He is the third different Groza winner from Florida State.
Joyner, another FSU standout, was up for the Jim Thorpe Award given to the nation’s best defensive back.
“Lamarcus is just the ultimate team player and the ultimate competitor,” Fisher said before the awards. “For him to be here for an individual award is very fitting.”
Joyner did not win the award, which instead was presented to Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard.