NIU’s Lynch finishes third in Heisman voting

NEW YORK – Jordan Lynch is the third-best player in college football.

At least that’s’ what the nation’s Heisman Trophy voters think.

Lynch took third place in the 2013 Heisman Trophy balloting, which was announced Saturday in Manhattan.

Lynch, who finished seventh last season, is the highest finisher in NIU history. In 1993, Huskies tailback LeShon Johnson finished sixth after leading the country in rushing. Lynch also has the best finish from the Mid-American Conference.

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, the heavy favorite coming in, won the Heisman.

“I was really hoping to hear my name,” Lynch said. “But Jameis Winston, it’s well-deserved.”

Lynch garnered 40 first-place votes.

“It was an honor just to be here. We’ve got a chance to do something no Northern Illinois team has ever done and that’s win 13 games,” Lynch said. “Looking forward to getting back on the field.”

Winston’s the first Seminole to win the award since Chris Weinke in 2000. He garnered 668 first-place votes.

“I cannot explain the feeling that I have inside right now,” Winston told reporters after the ceremony. “I’m so overwhelmed. It’s just awesome.”

Lynch’s honor comes after another stellar season for NIU’s quarterback, who helped the Huskies to the cusp of a BCS berth before losing to Bowling Green in the MAC Championship.

Lynch finished the regular season with 4,557 yards of total offense and 45 total touchdowns. His average of 350.5 yards of offense a game ranks fourth in the country. He’ll end his collegiate career Dec. 26 in the Poinsettia Bowl, where NIU takes on Utah State.

“I’m extremely happy for Jordan and his parents. Well-deserved,” NIU coach Rod Carey said before the ceremony. “Sure, we’re riding his coattails, there’s no question. That’s first and foremost, is Jordan and his family.”

Winston becomes the second consecutive freshman to win the award. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel won last year.

The Seminoles quarterback’s win comes with some controversy, as last month, Winston was investigated for a sexual assault complaint from 2012. Charges were not filed.

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron finished second while Boston College running back Andre Williams was fourth. Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel was fifth and Auburn tailback Tre Mason finished sixth.