The Heisman Trophy is the most prestigious award in college football, and six finalists have been selected to attend the ceremony in 2013, which takes place on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 8 p.m. ET.
Here's a list of the six players invited to the 79th annual Heisman Trophy presentation, as shown by College GameDay:
Congratulations to the #Heisman Finalists: Jordan Lynch Johnny Manziel Tre Mason AJ McCarron Andre Williams Jameis Winston— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) December 9, 2013
Florida State's Jameis Winston is the prohibitive favorite to win the award after his brilliant freshman campaign, which culminated in a BCS National Championship bid after the Seminoles finished the season undefeated.
However, all six of the young men chosen to attend the ceremony are worthy of the invitation. Each player, in his own way, left an indelible mark on the college football landscape this season.
Here's a look at when and where you can catch the ceremony, along with a closer look at what the Heisman means and the players contending for the award.
When: Saturday, Dec. 14, at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Best Buy Theater, N.Y.
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
According to the official Heisman website, the Heisman Trophy is awarded annually to the player "designated as the outstanding college football player in the United States."
The award was designed and crafted by sculptor Frank Eliscu, who used Ed Smith—a player for New York University—as his model, and the classic Heisman pose was selected as a means to represent a "muscular footballer driving for yardage," per the official website.
The Heisman was first bestowed on Jay Berwanger—also known as the "one man gang," back in 1935, but it was originally called the DAC Trophy.
Running backs and quarterbacks have won the Heisman all but five times, and there have only been three defenders and two receivers to ever win the award. Therefore, it's no surprise that of the six finalists heading to New York, four are quarterbacks and two are running backs.
It is a surprise, however, that six finalists were selected. There haven't been this many finalists since 1994, as Brandon Marcello of AL.com pointed out:
Six players named Heisman finalists for the first time since 1994.— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) December 9, 2013
With that in mind, here's a look at what each man has done to earn an invitation to this year's ceremony.
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Nobody expected Florida State to go undefeated this year and contend for a national title.
Nobody knew what Jameis Winston was capable of doing on the big stage, either, but the redshirt freshman quickly opened all our eyes to the truth.
Leading FSU to an undefeated record and a birth in the BCS National Championship Game, Winston put together the finest season of any player in college football.
Passing for 3,820 yards, 38 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, he led the nation with a 190.1 passer rating and displayed excellent decision-making all year long. In addition to his passing prowess, Winston added another four touchdown runs, totaling 42 scores on the season.
He has the stats to win, and voters must respect his undefeated season.
It will be a shock if Winston doesn't win the trophy. And if he does, he will become the second freshman in a row to accomplish the feat after Johnny Manziel won it in 2012.
Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois
If you watched Northern Illinois play at all in 2013, then you have an appreciation for just how brilliant quarterback Jordan Lynch was this season for the Huskies.
The dual-threat signal-caller passed for exactly the same amount of yardage as fellow Heisman hopeful AJ McCarron (2,676), throwing 23 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.
As for the other half of his repertoire, Lynch was unbelievable as a runner, finishing the season with 1,881 rushing yards (breaking his own record) and 22 rushing touchdowns.
For those keeping score at home, that means he totaled 4,557 yards and 45 touchdowns—simply jaw-dropping numbers.
In addition to his incredible statistical performance, Lynch led the Huskies to a record of 12-1, earning a trip to the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. He deserves to finish as the second-place vote-getter.
Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
A month ago, Auburn running back Tre Mason wasn't even on the radar as a potential Heisman Trophy finalist. However, as the Tigers began their BCS National Championship Game push in the month of November, Mason heated up.
Where will Mason finish in the Heisman voting?
By the time he was finished embarrassing Missouri to the tune of 304 yards and four touchdowns rushing in the SEC Championship Game, Mason had racked up 700 rushing yards and nine touchdowns in Auburn's final four games.
He was the lightning rod for Auburn's offense, gashing defenses for huge gains in Auburn's triple-option attack. Nick Marshall was also brilliant, but the Tigers wouldn't have had a chance of taking down Alabama without Mason's inspired efforts.
Thanks to his red-hot finish, Mason earned a trip to New York, and nobody should be surprised if he finishes in the top three.
Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
After putting together the most impressive season of any running back in college football, Andre Williams unfortunately finished with a whimper, thanks to an undisclosed injury that forced him out early in the third quarter on Nov. 30 against Syracuse.
He finished that game with just 29 yards on nine carries, though he did manage to score a touchdown. But when you look at Williams' entire body of work, there's no doubt he deserves to be among the top-three vote-getters for this year's Heisman.
Williams rushed for 2,102 yards and 17 touchdowns for the Eagles, becoming just the 16th player in college football history to crack the 2,000-yard barrier, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Heisman finalist Andre Williams is the 16th in FBS history to run for at least 2,000 yds in a season; 1st since UConn's Donald Brown in 2008— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 10, 2013
Incredibly, Williams didn't catch a single pass in 2013, which could potentially hurt his stock when the votes are counted.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
After becoming the first freshman ever to win a Heisman Trophy in 2012, Johnny Manziel has taken a back seat in 2013 to another freshman phenom.
Still, earning a trip to the Heisman ceremony for the second year in a row is a big deal, and there's no doubt Manziel deserves the honor.
The sophomore signal-caller bettered his freshmen passing totals, completing 69.1 percent of his passes for 3,732 yards with 33 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
However, after putting up massive running totals in 2012 (1,410 yards, 21 touchdowns), his impact on Texas A&M's rushing offense was minimized this past season, when he rushed for just 686 yards and eight touchdowns.
Making matters worse for his Heisman stock, Manziel's Aggies went 8-4 this season, and wins tend to matter when it comes to the voting process.
AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama
Speaking of wins, you have to believe AJ McCarron's invitation to New York was based somewhat on his incredible three-year run at Alabama, in which he lost just three games and won two national championships.
Does McCarron deserve to be a finalist?
Interestingly enough, the lasting memory many will have of McCarron's final season at 'Bama was the incredible grace he showed in defeat after losing the Iron Bowl to Auburn. The senior quarterback showed true class, which is something too many young players lack these days.
As for stats, McCarron's are impressive, though not as much so as the other finalists'.
For the season, he passed for 2,676 yards with 26 touchdowns and just five interceptions, adding a scant 21 yards on the ground.
It will be surprising if McCarron ends up being a top vote-getter, but there's no doubt the senior belongs on the stage with the rest of the contenders.
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