Jameis Winston: One Hit Wonder or Future Heisman Winner?
By Matt O'Hern // September 5, 2013
ABOVE VIDEO: Florida State Freshman QB Jameis Winston accounts for 5 TD vs Pittsburgh, as he introduces himself on the national spotlight. Video courtesy of ESPN.
Since 2001, fans for Florida State football have seen highly-touted, blue chip recruits who never managed to meet the high level of expectations.
Perhaps that’s why Jameis Winston’s record-setting debut made an immediate impression that reached far beyond the city limits of Tallahaseee.
In front of a packed house at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Winston delivered a performance that led many to believe Monday’s game likely marked the first of many visits to an NFL Stadium. In three hours, Winston’s performance eclipsed his predecessors since the Seminole’s last reached the BCS Championship game with Chris Weinke in 2001. Completing 26 of 28 passes, Winston instantly gained national attention.
Critics including fans of FSU rivals were quick to downplay the statistics from a single game, but even the most devoted Florida Gator fans couldn’t deny the athletic prowess on display. For the critics who trivialized the Seminoles’ opponent, a few key facts should be considered.
- Winston was playing against a a defense that was among the top 20 during the 2012 season. Pittsburgh’s 2012 season was one game under .500 but that record includes a 35-25 loss to Louisville, (The same Louisville team that embarrassed Florida Gators’ quarterback Jeff Driskel and defeated the Gators 33-23) and a 29-26 loss in overtime against national runner-up Notre Dame. The Panthers were a field goal away from making a bowl game. Many BCS level programs open their season against teams that aren’t even in the same NCAA Division.
- Winston was playing in a sold out NFL stadium on Pittsburgh’s inaugural game as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. For many first-time starters, a road game in a hostile environment is overwhelming enough. Pittsburgh’s players spent the entire summer planning to make a statement during their first game in the ACC.
- Winston’s knowledge of college defenses will only increase. With each successive game, Winston’s familiarity with college-level defenders will increase, which should simplify his decision-making process.
Single game statistics don’t provide a complete picture of a quarterback’s competence. Many quarterbacks can orchestrate a few impressive drives during at least one game out of an entire season. A strong knowledge of the game is what separates the legends from the average leaders. In the area of offensive strategy, Winston has shown incredible aptitude since he was in middle school. Take a look at a page from a playbook he wrote when he was only 12 years old.
Excerpts from Winston’s notes include:
“In a cover 4, the outside linebackers are the key. The best routes are go route and eagle.”
“In man coverage, the defense’s job is to put pressure on the offense. The best routes are trail, mesh, shallow, smash”.
“In a cover 3, bend, don’t break. The best routes are curl-flat, smash, vertical.”
Judging from these notes, Winston’s knowledge at age 12 matched or exceeded the football IQ of many high school and college-level players. Winston’s intelligence regarding football strategy will complement his overall athleticism. While he may not replicate his historic performance from Monday night, Winston appears to be on the path to college football stardom.
Below, you can see several highlight reels from Winston’s athletic career, including two sensational throws as an outfielder for FSU’s baseball team, where he plays as an outfielder.
BELOW: Jameis Winston throws a football over the FSU Pike apartment complex.
BELOW: Jameis Winston at QB (#8) for Hueytown High School.
BELOW: Winston throws a frozen rope to home against Virginia Tech.
BELOW: Winston throws out a Clemson runner at third base.