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Heisman: Winston, Manziel, Lynch among 6 finalists

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December 11, 2013 | Leave Comment

Jameis Winston

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston (5) throws a pass against Duke in the second half of the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship NCAA football game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

NEW YORK — Jameis Winston will have plenty of company at the Heisman Trophy ceremony — though he’s not expected to have much competition.

The Florida State quarterback was among a record-tying six Heisman finalists revealed Monday, along with Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Alabama’s AJ McCarron, Auburn’s Tre Mason and Boston College’s Andre Williams.

Six finalists invited to New York for the presentation are the most since 1994. The winner will be announced Saturday night.

Winston is the overwhelming favorite to win the award now that a sexual assault complaint against him in Tallahassee, Fla., has been closed without charges being filed. He could also become the second freshman to win the award.

Manziel was the first last year. The Aggies quarterback is trying to join another exclusive Heisman club by becoming the second player to win the award twice. Ohio State’s Archie Griffin won the award in 1974 and ’75.

Lynch led No. 24 Northern Illinois (12-1) to within a victory of a BCS bid and has set the major college record for yards rushing for a quarterback this season with 1,815. He also tweeted that he was a finalist about five minutes before the official announcement was made on ESPN by former winner Danny Wuerffel.

“NYC here I come!! Thanks to the coaches teammates and media relation couldn’t of did it wt out them!” the record-setting senior posted.

McCarron completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,676 yards and 26 touchdowns for the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide (11-1).

Mason has made a late push into the Heisman conversation as No. 2 Auburn reached the BCS title game. He ran for 304 yards and four TDs in the SEC championship game, and is ninth in the country in rushing (124 ypg) with 22 touchdowns

Williams is the nation’s leading rusher at 175 yards per game, the 16th player in FBS to run for 2,000 yards in a season and the first since 2008.

Winston’s arrival as Florida State’s starting quarterback was being touted as a major event in the spring and he has surpassed the hype. The Alabama native is on pace to break the NCAA record for passer efficiency rating (190.1) and has already set records for yards passing (3,820) and TD passes (38) for a freshman.

Winston’s only issues have come off the field. About a month ago, a year-old sexual assault complaint against him made by a female Florida State student was given by police to the state attorney’s office for a full investigation.

A woman claimed Winston raped her. Winston’s lawyer said the sex was consensual. Winston continued to play, and play well, during the investigation. Last week, the state attorney announced there would be no charges filed in the case, and two days later Winston threw for three touchdown passes and ran for a score as No. 1 Florida State won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game 45-7 against Duke and wrapped up a spot in the BCS title game.

In the latest straw poll released Monday by HeismanPundit.com, which has correctly predicted the last seven winners, Winston received seven of the 10 first-place votes and 26 points to easily outdistance Lynch (eight points and two first-place votes).

Winston is also a finalist for the Maxwell and Walter Camp player of the year awards.

All six finalists are expected to attend the ceremony, which would match ’94 for the most in Heisman history. That season Colorado tailback Rashaan Salaam won the Heisman, and Penn State’s Ki-Jana Carter and Kerry Collins, along with Alcorn State’s Steve McNair, Alabama’s Jay Barker and Miami’s Warren Sapp were finalists.

In 1989, eight players were invited to the ceremony, but only four attended. Among the missing was Houston’s Andre Ware, who won the award but was preparing for a game.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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