TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has the opportunity to accomplish what only one other player has achieved — win the Heisman Trophy twice.
Twenty-three underclassmen have won the award, but Ohio State running back Archie Griffin was the only one to pull off the feat.
He is shocked that he remains the lone double winner since the award’s inception in 1935. Until recently, the majority of winners were seniors or juniors that could turn pro. But five of the last seven winners have been sophomores or redshirt freshmen.
Griffin, the Heisman trophy winner in 1974 and 1975, believes it is more difficult to win the award in back-to-back years than it was 40 years ago. For him, the off-the-field distractions were more stressful than any defense.
“I’ll never forget that I was trying to do everything for everybody and (coach) Woody (Hayes) called me into his office,” Griffin said. “He told me, ‘You know what? It’s going to make you soft. You can’t do everything for everybody.’”
“I’m going to be great, even better than I was last year,” Winston said. “I’m going to continue to be myself.”
Coach Jimbo Fisher said he and Winston have talked about the award, but not about winning another.
“I do (talk to him) from the point of the responsibility that goes with it with your character and the things you do,” Fisher said. “Not about winning another one. If he just goes and plays well, that will take care of itself.
“He never thought about winning a Heisman going into last year. You can’t worry about that.”
There will be plenty who will.
The demands and expectations are higher than when Griffin made history. Winston is the leading candidate heading into the season with the defending national champion Seminoles likely beginning the year ranked No. 1.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman winner, said that was the most difficult part for him in 2013.
“There is a lot of pressure,” Manziel said. “You’re the one that’s on TV every week. You’re the one who at the beginning of the year is already at the top of everybody’s Heisman list. … It’s everywhere because it’s the biggest trophy in college football.
“For me, I never really let it get to me too much, but at the same time, it was always around and it was always lingering no matter what went on throughout the season.”