Florida St.’s Winston juggles football, baseball, classwork, stardom

  • By David Whitley Orlando Sentinel
  • Saturday, April 12, 2014 7:18pm
  • SportsSports

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Jameis Winston has met the enemy. And it is not the new logo that has been painted at midfield.

As much as Florida State fans may not like the revised Seminole head, their big worry this fall will what’s going on inside Winston’s noggin. That’s why Jimbo Fisher keeps repeating something to his quarterback.

“The downfall of great players and great people is boredom,” Fisher said.

So Jameis, you bored yet?

“I’m bored right now,” he said.

It was 45 minutes after FSU’s spring game. Winston was surrounded by reporters, but he was antsy to get out of the press conference and get on with his life. You would be, too, if you led Winston’s life.

“I’m a regular college student,” he said.

He was stressing that he has to go to class and study like every other 20-year-old on campus. But he’s the only one who spent Friday night in Atlanta, playing two innings of baseball against Georgia Tech. Winston caught a plane to Tallahassee Saturday morning and arrived in time to play a little football.

He’s the only student who had a police escort on and off the field to keep the admirers away. After he finished his football duties, Winston was flying back to Atlanta so he could play in today’s game against the Yellow Jackets.

It’s a rock-star existence, and you’d think FSU’s lead singer would have nothing to prove during the spring scrub game. The Seminoles don’t have many personnel worries, but they are breaking in a bunch of new receivers. They need to get comfortable with Winston, and vice versa.

Nobody looked very cozy during the first half. Winston was 13-of-31 passing, including one pass that wasn’t within 25 yards of the nearest receiver. Things got a lot smoother as the game wore on, though Winston ended up throwing 56 passes.

You have to hope Mike Martin doesn’t have to use him as a relief pitcher today. Winston doesn’t mind admitting that double sports duty has been a grind.

“Jimbo asked me if I’m tired,” Winston said. “Obviously, he can see in my eyes I’m tired. But I say, ‘No, coach.’”

The most telling thing about that comment was the “Jimbo.” It’s hard to imagine Florida’s Jeff Driskel calling his coach, Will Muschamp, “Will.” For all his Seminole glory, Charlie Ward never referred to his coach, Bobby Bowden, as “Bobby.”

But it sounds oddly appropriate coming out of Winston’s mouth. You may have heard that he led FSU an unbeaten season and national title, and he won a Heisman Trophy. The roster says he’ll be a redshirt sophomore next season, but Winston said he now feels more like a coach.

“I’ve got to,” he said. “It’s my job.”

He can also get better at the job of playing. Winston said he needs to keep his hips properly aligned while passing. He needs to check off more to his third or fourth receiver.

“It’s going to be the subtle things, because he does everything so well,” Fisher said.

Winston’s best thrown Saturday might have been a simple dump off to a back, who scooted 30 yards. Instead of winging it downfield to the first receiver he saw, Winston worked the entire field.

“Last year, I was more big-play guy,” he said. “This year, I’ve got to take on the challenge of being game manager.”

Last spring, he was just a guy with a lot of promise. Now he’s a game manager, de facto assistant coach, outfielder, relief pitcher, student and all-around icon.

“That’s how college life is,” Winston said. “And I love it.”

More important, he doesn’t sound the least bit bored.

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