Johnny Manziel made history last season, becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.
There’s a chance he may not be the only one.
Florida State redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston staked his claim to the Heisman on Saturday night, throwing for 444 yards and three touchdowns (plus another on the ground) to lead the No. 5 Seminoles to a 51-14 shellacking of No. 3 Clemson in Death Valley.
How good has Winston been this year? Through six games, he has 1,885 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns (plus another three rushing touchdowns), 3 interceptions, a 71 percent completion percentage and a passer rating of 210. That’s some pretty amazing stuff for a guy who is just getting his feet wet.
More importantly, his production has helped Florida State harken back to some of its past glory. This is easily the Seminoles’ best team since 2000, which was also the last time FSU had a Heisman winner (Chris Weinke) and landed a berth in the BCS title game.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, there’s still a long way to go this season. The ‘Noles still must play Miami, rival Florida and whoever it happens to play in the ACC title game (if it gets there).
And while Winston has been on fire, he’s not yet the favorite in this race. That honor would go to Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, who is still the player to beat.
But whether he wins or not, Winston has already established himself as a likely Heisman finalist. Before Manziel, the only freshmen to make it as finalists were Michael Vick and Herschel Walker.
That’s pretty good company.
Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.
Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.
“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”
Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.
You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season? Watch lists are being whittled.
The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior. The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.
The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).
The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten. The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).
Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah