Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has been named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year after leading the Seminoles to a 12-0 record, including an 8-0 mark in conference play.
In the official announcement, the ACC notes Winston becomes the first underclassman in history to capture the award. Other top contenders included Andre Williams of Boston College, Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh and Tajh Boyd of Clemson.
Winston, a native of Bessemer, Ala., was the choice of 47 of the 65 ACSMA members casting ballots. Boston College running back Andre Williams placed second with 13 votes. Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald was named on four ballots, while Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, the 2012 ACC Player of the Year, received one vote.
Winston was college football's breakout star this season. He's completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for 3,490 yards and 35 touchdowns so far in his freshman campaign. His success has allowed Florida State to reach No. 1 in the BCS standings and put him in the thick of the Heisman Trophy race.
The honor comes a handful of days before the Seminoles are set to face Duke in the ACC Championship Game. A victory on Saturday should be enough to lock up a spot in the national title game for the undefeated squad.
In recent years, Florida State has possessed an elite defense capable of slowing down opposing offenses, but it lacked a playmaker to lead the offense.
The defense continued to hold up its end of the bargain, ranking first in the nation in scoring defense, and the emergence of Winston allowed the Seminoles to enter the championship picture. Led by the talented quarterback, the offense ranks second in the country at more than 53 points per contest.
He's the first Florida State player to be honored as the conference's Player of the Year since Chris Weinke in 2000, according to the ACC release. Weinke, a senior at the time, also went on to win the Heisman Trophy that year.
Winston could follow in his Heisman footsteps. He leads the nation in passing efficiency while also ranking third in passing touchdowns, ninth in completion rate and 11th in passing yards. Add in the team's success and he's undoubtedly a strong contender.
As for now, Winston adds another award to his career résumé and shifts his focus back to Duke.
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