The hype started in spring and built up over the summer.
It grew in the preseason and reached a crescendo this past week.
Then Florida State and Pittsburgh kicked off on Monday night and Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston calmly walked out onto the field and lived up to the hype.
All of it.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound redshirt freshman completed 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns (with no interceptions) and added another 25 yards rushing (with a score) in FSU’s 41-13 win over the Panthers.
Winston made it look easy against the hapless Pitt defense, hitting open targets and setting the school single-game completion percentage record while running the Seminoles’ attack with the poise of a seasoned veteran. The excellence he displayed in his debut overwhelmed a good early showing by the Panther offense and spurred the Seminoles to their fourth-straight season-opening win. On this night, at least, the ‘Noles looked like a national title contender.
Before the hype gets too out of control, though, consider that Pitt is not really a good barometer for where FSU stands as a team. The Panthers just didn’t have the talent to contain the ‘Noles. But other teams coming up on the schedule will be more familiar with the tendencies of Jimbo Fisher’s offense and that is when Winston will truly be tested. Last year’s FSU team was loaded with talent, but it still found a way to lose to North Carolina State.
But forget about that for now. FSU fans have a valid reason to feel good after tonight. After all, they’ve got at least two full years to watch this elite talent lead their team. It should be a fun ride. The challenge for Fisher will be to manage the expectations and not put too much on his young freshman, especially when it comes to the playbook. The challenge for Winston is to stay resilient when the inevitable drop-off from tonight’s otherworldly production takes place.
Is Winston a legit Heisman candidate? I’d say that’s a bit premature. Yes, voters gave the Heisman to a freshman last season, but based on the perception of how that’s played out, they might think twice before doing it again.
Being buried on the depth chart will ofttimes lead a player to move on and search for playing time elsewhere, and that’s what appears to be happening to the quarterback position at Tulane.
According to a report from the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the newspaper has learned that Devin Powell has decided to transfer out of the Green Wave football program. It also appears a destination for the redshirt season is known: Nicholls State.
As the Colonels play at the FCS level, Powell would be able to play immediately in what will be his final season of collegiate eligibility.
For what it’s worth, Tulane officials have yet to address Powell’s status with the team moving forward.
Over the past four seasons, Powell started four games. He finished his Green Wave career by completing 51 percent of his passes (116-229) for 1,204 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. The New Orleans product also rushed for minus-43 yards on 42 carries, and was sacked 21 times.
According to the Times-Picayune, Powell exited the spring third on the Green Wave’s depth chart.
The bad news for San Diego State is that its backfield has taken a hit. The good news? They still have Donnell Pumphrey.
On the negative front, head coach Rocky Long indicated that, more than likely, Marcus Stamps will miss the entire 2016 season. The redshirt junior running back recently underwent surgery on his back, the nature of which wasn’t specified by the coach.
“He won’t be back this season, probably,” Long said according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. “He felt something in his back during spring practice. They kept checking him out, then they suggested he get it operated on.”
Stamps played in the first eight games of the 2015 season before a knee injury essentially sidelined him the the remaining three regular season games plus two in the postseason — the Mountain West Championship game and Hawaii Bowl. During the time he was healthy, Stamps ran for 33 yards on 16 carries.
As long as Pumphrey is healthy, though, the Aztecs’ running game should be in fine shape.
Pumphrey’s 1,651 yards rushing were seventh nationally last year. Entering his senior season, Pumphrey needs just 318 yards to surpass Marshall Faulk (4,589 from 1991-93) for the most in school history.
In last year’s opener, Christian Bell suited up for Alabama in their opener against Wisconsin. For this year’s opener, he’ll be on that Big Ten team’s sideline as they take on yet another school from the SEC.
On his Twitter account Thursday, Bell announced that he has decided to transfer into the Wisconsin football program. Over this past weekend, the linebacker announced via the same social media site that he would be transferring from the Tide.
Barring the unexpected, Bell will be forced to sit out the 2016 season and thus won’t be in uniform when UW opens against LSU at Lambeau Field. Then beginning in 2017, though, he would have four seasons of eligibility remaining.
Bell took a “grayshirt” for the 2015 season, ultimately enrolling in classes at UA this past January. The Birmingham, Ala., native participated in spring practice with the Tide this year.
A three-star recruit according to 247Sports.com, Bell was rated as the No. 19 weakside defensive end in the country and the No. 17 player at any position in the state of Alabama.
It appears the brief but up-and-down career of Larry Jefferson in Morgantown has come to an abrupt end.
The former junior college transfer had been suspended from participating in West Virginia’s spring practices for violating unspecified team rules. Now, WV MetroNews is reporting, the defensive lineman was arrested late Tuesday morning and charged with drug possession. “Jefferson was stopped on Clay Street in Morgantown as officers were investigating a brandishing incident at South University Plaza in Morgantown,” the website wrote, and was subsequently found to be carrying small amounts of cocaine and marijuana.
According to the Dominion Post, Jefferson was holding .6 grams of coke and one gram of weed.
While WVU officials have yet to comment publicly on the situation, Jefferson’s name has been removed from the Mountaineers’ online roster. Jefferson had not been reinstated from his spring suspension, but, prior to this incident, he had been expected to be on the field for the start of summer camp early next month and be a part of WVU’s line rotation this season as a pass-rush specialist.
After coming to WVU following two seasons at a Mississippi JUCO, Jefferson played in nine games for the Mountaineers last season.