Where did Jameis Winston come from? Before the current college football season, this redshirt freshman, from Hueytown, Alabama, was virtually unknown.
Were there high hopes for him? His name had not been thrown around with the likes of Tahj Boyd from Clemson, Teddy Bridgewater from Louisville, or even the great “Johnny Football.” The Florida State quarterback burst on the scene unexpectedly with a phenomenal game in week one, where he was 25-27 for 356 yards and four touchdowns.
Drafted in the 15th round of the Major League Baseball draft, Winston decided to go to college instead. When he was in high school, he was considered to be the top quarterback prospect in the nation. Committing to Florida State, Winston plays both baseball and football.
What distinguishes him from other collegiate quarterbacks? Primarily, he protects the ball. For the 2013 season thus far, his stats are 112 of 157, 1,885 yards, 20 touchdowns, and three interceptions; these are phenomenal statistics for any quarterback, especially a freshman.
His best game to date was against the third-ranked Clemson Tigers. Amazingly, his stats for that game were 22-34 for 444 yards, three passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. Delving deeper into his statistics, Winston threw for 293 of his 444 yards against the blitz in the game against Clemson. He has proven that he can already perform under the pressure of the big games.
His pocket presence is extraordinary. His speed could use some improvement, but he makes up for his lack of speed with his mobility and expertise from the pocket. His decision-making on the field is wise beyond his years.
Compared to Johnny Manziel in the same number of games his freshman year, Winston’s stats are not only comparable but better. Last year through six games, Manziel’s stats were 128 of 190, 1,680 yards, 14 touchdowns, and three interceptions. Winston’s performance this year is on track to surpass Manziel’s freshman year.
This fall, Florida State questioned if Winston was going to be able to step up and play as well as the 16th overall pick for the Buffalo Bills, EJ Manuel, who played for Florida State last year. Winston has solidly answered those questions and convinced the critics.
Is he worthy of the Heisman? Only time will tell. He is having a record-breaking season, but is he the best player in college? Is he better than Tahj Boyd, Teddy Bridgewater, or Johnny Manziel? Teddy Bridgewater’s stats are 154 of 214 for 2,213 yards with 20 touchdowns and two interceptions. Johnny Manziel’s stats this year are 159 of 217 for 2,289 with 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
By the numbers, Winston has not necessarily outplayed either of them; however, Jameis Winston is the only one playing for an undefeated team. He does not yet have the experience of Manziel, Boyd or Bridgewater, but stats do not tell the whole story. Putting a mark in the win column is what matters at the end of the day.
But how far can he take his team this year? They are in the ACC, which is not the SEC by any means. What will happen when he has to play against an SEC defense?
The rest of the season should be a relatively easy schedule for Florida State, with their only really difficult games being against Miami (Fla.) and Florida. In both of these games, FSU is projected to win. If Winston plays the way he played against Clemson for the rest of the season, he will have no problem tearing up the defenses of Miami and Florida.
Jameis Winston is the best player in the nation right now, and if he keeps playing the way he is currently, I believe the Heisman Trophy could be awarded to a freshman for only the second time in history.
– Joseph Dugger, Contributing Writer