Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is looking to make college football history this season. There has only been one two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy, with Archie Griffin striking back-to-back Heisman poses in 1974 and 1975. Winning one Heisman Trophy is an accomplishment in itself. Does Winston have what it takes to win a second straight Heisman Trophy in 2014, after being named the Heisman Trophy recipient in 2013? Yes, he does, but history has a pretty solid track record in suggesting he will not.
Since 2007, there have been four Heisman winners that returned the following season. The following season was not particularly kind to the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in the final voting for that season’s Heisman Trophy. Tim Tebow finished third in the 2008 Heisman voting after winning the 2007 Heisman. The 2008 winner Sam Bradford was injured for much of 2009 and did not finish in the top 10 in the voting. The same was true for Alabama running back Mark Ingram. The 2009 winner was banged up at times in 2010 and did not finish in the top 10. The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner was Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel. Last season, Manziel finished fifth in the Heisman voting. Is Winston doomed to follow this trend?
If there is one thing that can be said about Winston, it is that he is confident about his play and unnerved by adversity when it comes to his on-field performance. That bodes well for his case for a repeat Heisman celebration. Winston is aided by being on the best team in the country, with plenty of talent surrounding him to allow the quarterback to make big plays at any moment through the air or on the ground with his feet. Winston may have already put together a Heisman moment in week one when he hurdled over one of his teammates on his way to a key touchdown against Oklahoma State.
After just two games, Winston is already averaging 313.0 passing yards per game and he has just three touchdowns to two interceptions. That ratio may not be likely to continue as Florida State gets going in ACC play. Winston has completed 70.1 percent of his passes in the first two games of the season, which is a few percentage points higher than his Heisman winning season a year ago. As long as Florida State remains in the College Football Playoff conversation, and they should, then Winston will be given plenty of opportunities to create his next Heisman moment. One question to be asked is whether or not he will manage to create enough Heisman moments to top what he did last season, which is still fresh in the memory banks of Heisman voters.
Of course, with Winston being suspended for the first half of the Clemson game, there is plenty of negative fresh in the memory banks as well. Winston’s questionable behavior off the field is certainly worth discussing among Heisman voters because overall character is taken into consideration by the Heisman voters. Some weigh character heavier than others though. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is off to a quick start and may be the favorite at this point in time to win the Heisman Trophy, but if Oregon falters at any point, it could be Winston who regains his footing in front of the Heisman pack.
Weekly Heisman Trophy Spotlight Game: Kansas State vs. Auburn
While Winston’s home game against Clemson is certainly worth discussing, this week offers Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall a chance to legitimize his Heisman campaign. Marshall leads the defending SEC champion into Big 12 territory with a Thursday night road game at No. 20 Kansas State. The Wildcats are off to a 2-0 start and typically play a style of defense that can slow down the production of up-tempo offenses. If Marshall can put together a solid game and lead Auburn to a road victory at Kansas State, we will start paying much more attention to Marshall in the Heisman conversation.
Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.