Sometimes legends are true.
That appears to be the case with folk hero Jameis Winston of Florida State. The redshirt freshman quarterback entered the season with high expectations, even though he’d never thrown a pass in college. Instead, fans had to watch YouTube videos of him throwing balls over fraternity houses, and throwing out runners as an outfielder on the baseball team to get an idea of what type of talent he was.
Sure, we got a glimpse of his prodigious talents in the Seminoles’ Spring game, but play callers never show everything they have in April.
So we waited, patiently. And now, our collective patience is being rewarded.
In Florida State’s 63-0 trouncing of the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday, Winston once again showed his brilliant play making abilities. All told, he was 23-32 for 393 yards and five touchdowns, but even those absurd numbers don’t do him justice. It was the manner in which Winston compiled those stats that was so eye-popping. All day long, he showed an innate ability to feel the rush, keep his eyes downfield, move in the pocket, and then find receivers in the secondary.
Normally, I hate the phrase “it factor,” because it seems intellectually lazy. Surely, there has to be a better way to describe players who have a quality that transcends X’s and O’s. But in this case, it’s easiest to just say that Winston has “it.”
It’s hard to sift through the number of jaw-dropping plays he had against the Terps Saturday, but one certainly did jump off the screen. With the game firmly in hand late in the third quarter, Winston dropped back to pass and was swarmed by a Terp defensive lineman. Somehow, he was not only able to shrug off the inevitable sack, but scramble away and deliver a strike to tight end Nick O’Leary for a 12 yard touchdown.
While the Houdini-like escape was impressive, the throw was even better. After emerging from the heap of players, he rolled right, threw the ball on the roll (almost falling down), and lofted it perfectly over a defender’s hands into the waiting arms of O’Leary. It was Heisman-worthy.
That’s where the Winston conversation has to head at this point. He’s the best player in the country, there’s no doubt about it.
While Johnny Manziel gets more attention, he has a noodle arm compared to Winston, who throws 95+ mph on the mound as a pitcher. A.J. McCarron is a winner, but doesn’t have one attribute better than Winston as a quarterback. Jadeveon Clowney is a physical freak, but he sometimes goes dormant for extended periods of time.
So, for my money, Winston is the best player in the country. He can do it all on a football field.
The Seminoles will be in the national spotlight for the first time this year, when they travel to Death Valley in two weeks to take on the No. 3 ranked Clemson Tigers.
If Winston can pull off the upset, you can start engraving the trophy now.
B.L. is an ACC football writer for Rant Sports and can be followed on Twitter @coachlip or on Google.