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Winston cruises to Heisman Trophy in spite of abstentions

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The Heisman Trophy results proceeded as expected all along on Dec. 14. While Jameis Winston's legal troubles put a cloud over the Heisman race, it was the only thing that came close to derailing him. Even after being cleared, however, there were still some who were uncomfortable in voting for Winston or anyone -- though it wasn't nearly enough to prevent his victory.

Out of 900 ballots, Winston was left off of 115 of them, according to ESPN. Regardless, the Florida State Seminoles' freshman quarterback racked up 2,205 points in the voting -- more than three times that of runner-up A.J. McCarron.

The biggest Heisman suspense left after Winston got cleared was who would finish second. It looked like Auburn's Tre Mason might have an edge after his record-setting performance in the SEC title game, yet he finished sixth out of the six finalists. At least in this contest, McCarron was able to beat out Mason, as his second-place performance capped off a decorated career for the Alabama quarterback.

Northern Illinois's Jordan Lynch came in third, followed by Boston College running back Andre Williams. As for defending Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, he only managed to place fifth, on a night where he was no longer the only freshman to ever win the award.

Winston was also the youngest winner in Heisman history, at 19 years old and over 11 months. Ironically, his birthday will fall on the date of the BCS title game, when the Seminoles face Mason and the Auburn Tigers. If the Seminoles prevail, Winston would be the first Heisman choice to also win the national championship since Cam Newton did it with Auburn in 2010.

Newton's own eligibility was called into question that season, although he too was cleared for accepting benefits. Winston escaped charges for something far more serious, which may not fully escape him even with this award or with the national championship. It didn't escape at least 115 voters, although they were only a minority.

If more unpleasant details ever come out about what Winston did in Dec. 2012 with an alleged rape victim, this vote may turn out to be a black eye on the Heisman anyway. But on this night, the Florida State quarterback stood on top of college football, as everyone expected in the first place long ago.

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