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Johnny Manziel vs. Jameis Winston: Who had the better Heisman season?

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Cred: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

After leading his Florida State team to a 12-0 regular season record in 2013, an ACC championship, and a BCS title berth, Jameis Winston was awarded the 79th Heisman Trophy. Winston is just the second (redshirt) freshman in history to win it, joining Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

The two quarterbacks, having made college football history, will undoubtedly be compared to one another. Let’s break down some key components to see which quarterback had the better freshman Heisman campaign.


Manziel ’12 - 3706 yards; 26 TD; 9 Int; 285.1 yards per game; 68% completion

Winston ’13 - 3820 yards; 38 TD; 10 Int; 293.8 yards per game; 67.9% completion

Winner Winston - Yards per game and completion percentage were too close to call. Winston’s 12 extra touchdowns give him the edge.


Manziel ’12 - 1410 yards; 21 TD; 108.46 yards per game

Winston ’13 - 193 yards; 4 TD; 14.85 yards per game

Winner Manziel - This is no contest. Manziel ran the ball 10 more times per game, and had 17 more touchdowns.

Statement Game

Manziel ’12 - Defeated No. 1 Alabama, 29-24. Manziel had his second-highest completion percentage on the season, at 77.4%. He had 345 yards of total offense and 2 touchdowns. This game effectively sealed the Heisman for Manziel.

Winston ’13 - Defeated No. 3 Clemson, 51-14, in Death Valley. This game was Winston’s official coming out party. He had 444 yards passing (his highest number on the season), with three touchdowns through the air and one on the ground. The pre-game footage of Winston joking with teammates showed that he doesn’t rattle easily.

Winner Manziel: While Winston’s win over Clemson was impressive, Manziel conquered Goliath in his own den. Ultimately, Clemson proved to be a flawed team, whereas Alabama’s only weakness was Johnny Football.

Surrounding Cast

Manziel ’12 - Luke Joekel (OL), Christine Michael (RB), Ryan Swope (WR), Ben Malena (RB), Jake Matthews (OL), Derel Walker (WR), Malcom Kennedy (WR), Travis Labhart (WR)

Defense: No. 26 scoring defense in the country; allowed 21.8 points per game.

Winston ’13 - Devonta Freeman (RB), Karlos Williams (RB), James Wilder Jr. (RB), Rashad Greene (WR), Kelvin Benjamin (WR), Kenny Shaw (WR), Nick O’Leary (TE)

Defense: No. 1 scoring defense in the country; allowed 10.7 points per game.

Winner Manziel: Winston had a much better defense, and overall surrounding supporting cast, than Manziel. At the end of the day, FSU’s 2013 roster will likely be littered with more NFL starters than A&M’s.

Overall year

Manziel ’12 - Johnny Manziel led his Aggies to a 10-2 regular season record and a Cotton Bowl berth. Manziel had the top moment of the year, knocking off Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The two losses came to Florida, in Texas A&M’s first game of the season, and against the LSU Tigers. Manziel turned Texas A&M into a nationally relevant program in only a year.

Winston ’13 - Jameis Winston led his Florida State Seminoles to their first No. 1 ranking since FSU’s 1999 national championship season. He has the team headed to the BCS National Championship Game after a perfect, 12-0 regular season, and an ACC championship victory over Duke.

Winner Winston: This one was almost too close to call, but with the perfect record and title game berth, Winston ultimately prevails.

Overall Winner: Johnny Manziel

While Winston put together a nearly flawless year, Manziel did more with less in every aspect of the game. The glaring difference between the two is rushing statistics. Manziel willed his team to wins both on the ground and through the air. That added dimension gives him the nod over Winston.

Who had the better freshman Heisman Trophy season?

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