For two very basic and simple reasons, most people have assumed throughout the year that Jameis Winston‘s second season as Florida State’s starting quarterback will be his last.
One, he was viewed by many (most?) as a likely Top 10, if not Top Five, selection in the 2015 NFL draft… provided teams could get past the off-field noise. Which, of course, brings us to the second reason, that being the deafening and voluminous amount of noise that has come with being Winston at the collegiate level. Winston is under more of a focused microscope on a college campus — autographs, student code of conduct hearing — than he would be in an NFL city, the theory goes, so he’d better off taking his leave of the amateur ranks and heading to the pros, where he’d at least get paid for the media headaches.
On the flip side, Winston said as recently as July off this year that playing two more years at the collegiate level, 2014 and 2015, wasn’t out of the question. And that came a month after Winston’s dad was quoted as saying his son would remain with the football Seminoles for two more seasons.
Fast-forward to today, and the NFL question when it comes to Winston still lingers. As he’s preparing FSU for its semifinal showdown with Oregon New Year’s Day, Jimbo Fisher, he of a new contract (almost), was asked about Winston’s future. As has been the case every other time the subject’s been broached, Fisher says no decision has been made.
“I understand if he wants to go, when a guy’s that high and you’re doing what you do,” the head coach said. “But remember, he’s a very, very good student. He’s very smart. He loves baseball. He loves his time in college. He loves all the interaction of this, believe it or not. So it would not shock me either way.”
While most view, or viewed, Winston’s jump to the NFL as a fait accompli, it may not be the lock that it once was.
Winston is coming off a regular season that, at least statistically, paled into comparison to a 2013 season that ended with him holding the Heisman Trophy. His performance on the field has led some to question whether his stock is falling. And then there’s the very off-field noise that most had as being the impetus for him leaving early.
In September, ProFootballTalk‘s Mike Florio opined that Winston is “running out of chances to convince the NFL he can come in and be that player who is the leader of your team both in the locker room and in the public eye.” A month later, FOXSports.com‘s Jay Glazer reported that “general managers are moving Winston down their potential draft boards — or off them completely.”
Winston certainly has a big decision to make over the next month, although it may not be as clear either way as some thought a few months ago.