Six named Heisman Trophy finalists
Four quarterbacks and two running backs were named Heisman Trophy finalists on Monday.
Quarterbacks Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois, Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, AJ McCarron of Alabama and Jameis Winston of Florida State were all invited to the Heisman ceremony on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).
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The six finalists invited to the ceremony in New York are the most since 1994.
Winston is the overwhelming favorite to win the award Saturday night in New York now that a sexual assault complaint against him in Tallahassee, Fla., has been closed without charges being filed.
He could become the second straight freshman to win the award as the top player in college football after Manziel won it last season.
Winston set freshman records by passing for 3,820 yards and 38 touchdowns while leading No. 1 Florida State into the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game. The Alabama native is on pace to break the NCAA record for passer efficiency rating (190.1).
Manziel passed for 3,732 yards, 255 more than in his Heisman-winning regular season last year. He also threw for nine more touchdowns, but his rushing stats were way down.
Heisman Finalist Statistics
|Quarterback||Total yards||Total TDs|
|Running back||Total yards||Total TDs|
Manziel ran for 686 yards, down from 1,181 a year ago, and just eight touchdowns, down from 19.
He would be only the second player to win the award twice after Ohio State's Archie Griffin in 1974 and 1975.
Williams ran for 2,102 this season, becoming the first player to pass 2,000 yards since 2008. He ran for 17 touchdowns and averaged 6.4 yards a carry but did not catch a pass all season.
"I haven't been able to wrap my mind around it yet," Williams said. "I'm still really blown away about it. I'm still sifting through all the congratulations and phone calls. It's just a really awesome experience. I know it's a big deal, but I don't really know what the whole experience is gonna entail in terms of the actual ceremony. I'm just looking forward to it and looking forward to being around all the other great athletes."
Williams said he would reward his offensive linemen in a unique way.
"If I actually win the Heisman Trophy, I'll chop it up into equal pieces and they can all take a piece of it home," he said.
Mason, a junior, put his name on the list by running for 304 yards and four touchdowns Saturday against Missouri in the SEC Championship Game. He ran for 1,621 yards and 22 touchdowns this season -- in one more game than Williams.
"When I heard the news, I was in disbelief," Mason said in a statement. "For me to be invited to the Heisman ceremony, I am honored and blessed. I couldn't have done it without my teammates; this is an honor for all of them also."
Lynch set a quarterback record by running for 1,881 yards, but his candidacy likely took a hit when Northern Illinois (12-1) lost to Bowling Green in the MAC Championship. He also threw for 2,676 yards and accounted for 46 touchdowns -- 22 rushing, 23 passing and one receiving.
Lynch tweeted that he was a finalist about five minutes before the official announcement was made on ESPN by former winner Danny Wuerffel.
NyC here income thanks to coaches, teammates DFO and media relation for making this possible!!#bobcole— Jordan Lynch (@Jordanlynch06) December 9, 2013
McCarron completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,676 yards and 26 touchdowns for the 11-1 Crimson Tide. He's only lost three games as Alabama's starting quarterback.
"This will be my first trip to New York City, and I can't put into words how much it means to me," McCarron said in a statement released by the school. "I am truly privileged to have the opportunity to represent our team at the Heisman ceremony. None of this would be possible without my coaches and teammates."
Five of the six finalists came from two divisions. McCarron, Mason and Manziel all played in the SEC West Division while Winston and Williams both played in the ACC Atlantic Division.
Also overlooked was Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, who leads the country in both passing yards with 4,866 and passing touchdowns with 48. He threw for 1,046 yards and 10 touchdowns more than Winston in one fewer game.
All six finalists are expected to attend the ceremony, which would match 1994 for the most in Heisman history. That season Colorado tailback Rashaan Salaam won the Heisman, and Penn State's Ki-Jana Carter and Kerry Collins, along with Alcorn State's Steve McNair, Alabama's Jay Barker and Miami's Warren Sapp were finalists.
In 1989, eight players were invited to the ceremony, but only four attended. Among the missing was Houston's Andre Ware, who won the award but was preparing for a game.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.