NEW YORK — Jameis Winston was 14 years old when he became aware of the Heisman Trophy and its significance in college football lore.
Winston played the video game NCAA 2006, which let players join the "road to glory" with a chance to win a Heisman — the award presented annually to the nation's top college football player.
Winston created himself then did everything possible to win a make-believe Heisman.
Saturday night, the award he could once only dream of became a reality.
Winston, the Florida State quarterback, was named the 79th Heisman winner — becoming its youngest winner and just the second freshman winner. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel also was a redshirt freshman when he won it last season. He finished fifth this time.
"I'm so overwhelmed right now," Winston said about a half-hour after he was presented with the trophy.
Winston choked up during his acceptance speech.
"When I looked down in the stands … I saw my mom's and my dad's eyes, and they felt so proud," he said. "And I ain't seen that look in their eyes in a long time. When you see your mom and you see your dad and they've been struggling through this whole process, and now you see a smile on their face, it comforted me."
Winston, 19, is the Seminoles' third Heisman winner, joining quarterbacks Charlie Ward (1993) and Chris Weinke (2000). He is the sixth winner from a Florida school over the past 22 years.
Winston won in a landslide, earning 2,205 votes (668 first-place votes) — the seventh-largest margin in Heisman history. Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron finished second with 704 points (79 first-place votes).
Winston threw for 3,820 yards and 38 touchdowns in becoming the first freshman quarterback to lead his team to a 13-0 record. He directed an offense that scored 53 points per game (second in Division I-A) and led a team that won its games by an average of 42.3 points. Next for he and the Seminoles is Auburn in the BCS national title game Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif.
Winston, who was under investigation for nearly two weeks of the voting period for an alleged sexual assault in which charges were not filed, was left off 115 ballots.
"God bless them," he said of those voters. "Everybody has their own opinion."
Winston said he never envisioned he would be a Heisman winner, but teammates did.
"I saw this coming," senior cornerback Lamarcus Joyner said. "I'm just so happy that I can actually see it being fulfilled. And I'm proud for him."
Winston credited his teammates for his success.
"This is not for me," he said. "This is for Florida State, and this is for my team because if I didn't have those guys, I wouldn't even be here. My accomplishments come directly from them."
An emotional FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said he was pleased Winston got what he deserved.
"When you watch someone work so hard for something and be so team-oriented — not individual-oriented — it reinforces that the good things happen to the good guys," he said.
"The true mark of a man is when you have your own individual issues but you have a team to lead like a family and you never let those (issues) get in the way of the rest of our players reaching their goals as a team. And just to know what he went through to get up there on that stage … sometimes as a coach, it just hits you every now and then. To me, that's why you're in coaching: to watch them grow and achieve the things you know they're capable of when there have been some odds against them."
Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]