ESPN College Football Awards
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was selected as the Walter Camp player of the year on Thursday, saying he was "overwhelmed" by the honor before later praising his team for the support it gave him during a trying month.
Winston had faced felony charges after being accused of sexually assaulting a female FSU student at an off-campus apartment on Dec. 7, 2012. But last week, state attorney Willie Meggs decided not to charge the Heisman Trophy favorite.
"I know I did nothing wrong," Winston said from the 23rd Home Depot College Football Awards in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
"People just got to realize that my family, and the coaches, and Coach (Jimbo) Fisher, they just supported me through this whole process, and I just feel so loved by that -- you just don't understand just how much that means to me."
The redshirt freshman is the second player from Florida State to win the Walter Camp award, joining quarterback Charlie Ward in 1993. Former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o won the Walter Camp last year.
The other finalists were Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron and Boston College running back Andre Williams.
McCarron didn't go home empty-handed, beating out Manziel and Winston for the Maxwell Award as the nation's most outstanding player.
Winston, meanwhile, also won the Davey O'Brien Award as the nation's best quarterback, beating out Manziel and McCarron again. Six of the last seven winners of the Davey O'Brien have gone on to win the Heisman Trophy.
Winston has set FBS freshman records for yards passing (3,820) and touchdown passes (38), leading No. 1 Florida State (13-0) into the VIZIO BCS National Championship against No. 2 Auburn. His 190.6 passer efficiency rating is tops in the country and is on pace to set an NCAA record.
"When you have a team like that, anyone can go out there and do that," Winston said of the star-studded Seminoles.
The Maxwell and Walter Camp Awards – along with the granddaddy of college football awards, the Heisman – all basically recognize the player of the year. However, they are vote on by different people. Members of the media and past winners vote on the Heisman; sportscasters, sportswriters and head coaches vote on the Maxwell; and sports information directors and head coaches vote on the Walter Camp award.
The Walter Camp Award is administered by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, which has an annual awards dinner in January in New Haven, Conn., while the Maxwell Award is given by the Maxwell Football Club of Philadelphia.
The Heisman will be awarded Saturday at 8 p.m. (ESPN).
McCarron became the first Alabama player to win the Maxwell Award as the nation's most outstanding player.
"Super surprised," he said. "I don't think I'm the best player out of the other two guys that were mentioned (Manziel, Winston), but I can't thank them enough. It's an honor to be here."
The fifth-year senior led Alabama to an 11-1 season that left the Crimson Tide just short of a chance to play for their third straight national championship. He threw for 2,676 yards and 26 touchdowns with five interceptions.
"It's awesome, but I can't thank my teammates enough," McCarron said of winning the award. "All my teammates back home, I love you guys. You all made this possible."
Doak Walker Award
Williams became the first Boston College player to capture the Doak Walker Award as the nation's outstanding running back.
Williams beat out fellow finalists Ka'Deem Carey of Arizona and Bishop Sankey of Washington.
A Heisman Trophy finalist, Williams became the first running back at the Football Bowl Subdivision level since 2008 to rush for 2,000 yards. He finished with 2,102 yards and 17 touchdowns to help the Eagles to seven wins and a bowl berth this season.
Williams also graduated from BC on Thursday.
Brandin Cooks of Oregon State captured the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's outstanding wide receiver.
Cooks beat out Texas A&M's Mike Evans and Clemson's Sammy Watkins for the honor.
Cooks, a junior, becomes the second winner from Oregon State, joining Mike Hass from 2005.
Cooks finished the season with 120 catches for 1,670 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also had 31 receptions for more than 20 yards, most in the country among wide receivers.
Home Depot Coach of the Year
Auburn's Gus Malzahn was named the Home Depot Coach of the Year.
Malzahn arrived at Auburn last December and took over a team that failed to win an SEC game in 2012. The No. 2 Tigers are 12-1 this season, won the SEC championship and earned a spot in the Vizio BCS National Championship.
The Tigers' 8½-game turnaround from last season matches the all-time mark set by Hawaii in 1999.
Bednarik Award, Outland Trophy
Senior defensive tackle Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh capped a big week by winning the Bednarik Award as the defensive player of the year and the Outland Trophy as the outstanding interior lineman.
Donald leads the nation in tackles for loss (2.2 per game), while ranking 10th in forced fumbles and 13th in sacks. Nearly half of his 54 total tackles have come behind the line (26.5).
He previously won the Lombardi Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy this week.
Donald topped Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley and UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr for the Bednarik. He beat out Texas A&M's Jake Matthews and Baylor's Cyril Richardson for the Outland.
Jim Thorpe Award
Cornerback Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back.
Other finalists included Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State and Lamarcus Joyner of Florida State.
The senior from Georgia finished the season with four interceptions and had two games with nine tackles, leading a dominant defense that carried the Spartans to the Big Ten title.
Lou Groza Award
Roberto Aguayo became the third Florida State player to receive the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top place-kicker.
Aguayo beat out Anthony Fera of Texas and Marvin Kloss of USF.
Aguayo went 19 of 20 on field goal attempts for the Seminoles, including a long of 52 yards. He also was perfect on 90 extra points.
Ray Guy Award
Tom Hornsey of Memphis won the Ray Guy Award as punter of the year.
The senior from Australia beat out Purdue's Cody Webster and Texas A&M's Drew Kaser.
Hornsey averaged 41.8 net yards per punt (fifth in FBS) and had 12 punts downed inside the opponents 10 (tied for sixth in FBS).
Tulane safety Devon Walker was honored with the Disney Spirit Award, given annually to the most inspirational figure or team.
Walker suffered a severe spinal cord injury while making a tackle against Tulsa last season, leaving the walk-on-turned-starter paralyzed from the neck down.
Walker accepted the award in Lake Buena Vista on Thursday night after spending the season on the sidelines as an inspiration to his Green Wave teammates.
"They were there for me everyday I was in the hospital," Walker said. "It's like a family."
Walker, a cell and molecular biology major, said he's on track to graduate in May and is hoping to go to medical school.
John Gagliardi, the all-time college football leader in victories, was honored for his Contributions to College Football. Gagliardi retired last year after going 489-138-11 over 60 seasons for Division III St. John's (Minnesota).
Also, Chris Davis' last-second, 106-yard field goal return that gave Auburn an improbable win against Alabama was voted by fans as the play of the year.
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