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28-Year Old Weinke Wins Heisman

by Mike Mitchell

Weinke, who spent six years playing minor league baseball before returning to school in 1997, capped a remarkable back-to-school story when the 28-year-old Florida State quarterback won the Heisman Trophy in one of the closest votes in the history of the award.

Weinke finished off a record-setting season by leading the Seminoles into an Orange Bowl matchup against No. 1 Oklahoma, which they lost 13-2.

He led the nation with a school-record 4,167 yards passing, threw 33 touchdown passes and had only 11 interceptions. He recovered from a serious neck injury late in the '98 season to become the Atlantic Coast Conference's career passing leader with 9,839 yards.

Weinke edged Oklahoma quarterback Josh Heupel for college football's most coveted individual prize by 76 points in the seventh tightest Heisman race. The closest Heisman vote was Bo Jackson's 45-point victory over Chuck Long in 1985.

Weinke had 369 first-place votes and 1,628 points; Heupel, who led the Sooners to the title game against the Seminoles by passing for 3,392 yards and 20 touchdowns, had 286 first-place votes and 1,552 points.

Purdue quarterback Drew Brees was third, TCU running back LaDainian Tomlinson was fourth and Northwestern running back Damien Anderson was fifth in balloting by the 922 Heisman voters.

A breakdown of the voting showed Weinke won four of the six regions - the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, the South and the Midwest. Heupel won the Southwest and the West.

Voters list their top three choices, with a first-place vote worth 3 points; second place 2 points; and third place 1 point.

Michael Vick was sixth, followed by Miami wide receiver Santana Moss, Washington quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo, Oregon State running back Ken Simonton and Auburn running back Rudi Johnson.

The last four quarterbacks to win the Heisman played for a team from the state of Florida - Danny Wuerffel (Florida, 1996); Ward; and Gino Toretta (Miami, 1992).

The journey to Heisman fame was a long one for Weinke. He was a 1990 Parade All-American, showed up at Florida State for four days and then signed a $350,000 contract with the Toronto Blue Jays organization. But Bowden wrote and told him if he ever wanted to return just give a call and a scholarship would be waiting.

Six years later, his lone baseball claim to fame was being the first baseman when NBA great Michael Jordan got his first hit in the minors. Discouraged he was no closer to the major leagues than when he started, Weinke's interest in football returned.

True to his word, Bowden gave Weinke a shot, and the Seminoles passed on signing Drew Henson.

In '98, Weinke got his break - starter Dan Kendra injured his knee before the season and was out for the year. In his second start, Weinke threw a school-record six interceptions in a 24-7 loss to North Carolina State.

He didn't throw another interception in his next 218 attempts, then was knocked out for the year in the Virginia game with a serious neck injury that required surgery. Weinke didn't practice again for 10 months and went through the '99 season with a protective brace.

In 1999, despite distractions from a midseason shopping scam by teammates Peter Warrick and Laveraneus Coles, Weinke drove the Seminoles to a perfect 12-0 record and Bowden's second national title.

Chris Weinke Sr. Florida State QB 369 216 89 1,628
Josh Heupel Sr. Oklahoma QB 286 290 114 1,552
Drew Brees Sr. Purdue QB 69 107 198 619
LaDainian Tomlinson Sr. TCU RB 47 110 205 566
Damien Anderson Jr. Northwestern RB 6 20 43 101
Michael Vick So. Virginia Tech QB 7 14 34 83
Santana Moss Sr. Miami, Fla. WR 3 9 28 55
Marques Tuiasosopo Sr. Washington QB 5 8 10 41
Ken Simonton Jr. Oregon St. RB 1 5 12 25
Rudi Johnson Jr. Auburn RB 3 1 9 20

Also See: All-Time Heisman List



Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player): Dan Morgan, Miami (Fla.)
See: All-Time Chuck Bednarik Award Winners

Fred Biletnikoff Award (receiver): Antonio Bryant, Pittsburgh
See: All-Time Fred Biletnikoff Award Winners

Dick Butkus Award (linebacker): Dan Morgan, Miami (Fla.)
See: All-Time Dick Butkus Award-Winners

Walter Camp Award (top player): Josh Heupel, Oklahoma, QB
See: All-Time Walter Camp POY Winners

Lou Groza Award (placekicker): Jonathan Ruffin, Cincinnati
See: All-Time Lou Groza Award Winners

Ray Guy Award (punter): Kevin Stemke, Wisconsin
See: All-Time Ray Guy Award Winners

Vince Lombardi Award (lineman or linebacker): Jamal Reynolds, Florida State, DE
See: All-Time Lombardi Award Winners

John Mackey Award (tight end): Tim Stratton, Purdue
See: All-Time John Mackey Award Winners

Robert W. (Tiny) Maxwell Award (top player): Drew Brees, Purdue
See: All-Time Maxwell Award Winners

Bronko Nagurski Trophy (defensive player): Dan Morgan, Miami (FL), LB
See: All-Time Bronko Nagurski Trophy Winners

Davey O'Brien Award (quarterback): Chris Weinke, Florida State
See: All-Time Davey O'Brien Award Winners

Outland Trophy (interior lineman): John Henderson, Tennessee
See: All-Time Outland Trophy Winners

Dave Rimington Trophy (center): Dominic Raiola, Nebraska
See: All-Time Dave Rimington Award Winners

Jim Thorpe Award (defensive back): Jamar Fletcher, Wisconsin
See: All-Time Jim Thorpe Award Winners

Johnny Unitas Award (senior quarterback): Chris Weinke, Florida State
See: All-Time Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award Winners

Doak Walker Award (running back): LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU
See: All-Time Doak Walker Award Winners

Home Depot Coach Of the Year: Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

Walter Camp Coach Of The Year: Bob Stoops, Oklahoma


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