Florida State Freshman Jameis Winston
We’re trying our hardest not to get ahead of ourselves. We don’t want to overhype you. We know you’re just a few months removed from high school. We don’t mean to build you up to an impossible standard.
But you’re not making this very easy on us.
First, before we get into all that, let’s clear one thing up: You don’t mind if we call you Jameis, do you? It just seems to roll off the tongue.
Jameis rhymes with famous, of course, which is why some have taken to calling you, “Famous Jameis.” And who doesn’t like the sound of that?
Yes, we understand that your family and friends call you “Jaboo” (pronounced J-boo), and maybe we’ll get to that point someday. But we just don't know each other that well yet. And Mr. Winston seems far too formal. So we’re gonna stick with Jameis.
After all, many of the great ones didn’t have nicknames. Chris Weinke didn’t. Warrick Dunn didn’t. Charlie Ward didn’t … unless you count “Chollie,” which was more of a mispronunciation than anything else.
And oh, here we go again.
One minute we’re discussing your name, and the next we’re listing you in a paragraph with three of the greatest athletes in school history.
OK, so this one wasn’t your fault. We’ll take the heat for this.
But that stuff over the weekend? The deal where you woke up at 6:30 a.m. for football practice in Tallahassee, had team meetings and practiced, then flew down to Miami for a baseball game and retired all nine batters you faced in order? While your fastball was lighting up radar guns? Including the Mark Light Stadium scoreboard, which clocked you at 97 mph?
That was all on you, friend.
Can’t blame us for that.
Same with the time you let some dudes videotape you throwing a football over a fraternity house and then post it on YouTube. It looked like you were throwing the ball to the moon, dude.
So again, that’s on you. Not us.
To be fair, we have made the mistake of doing some background checks on you, and that’s only made things tougher.
Your baseball teammates say you’re already a tremendous leader. They point to the final game from the Georgia Tech series a few weeks ago when they were down 5-0 in the early innings and you – a true freshman – gathered them together in the dugout and urged them to not get down.
“He brings the quarterback (mentality) from football over here,” sophomore shortstop Giovanny Alfonzo said. “Georgia Tech jumped on us, and he said, 'It's not going to happen again, guys.' He got the whole team together and said it's not going to happen again. ... He's definitely one of those guys we look up to regardless of his age.”
The fact that you were part of a brilliant bullpen effort that day, and helped the team rally for an 8-6 win and a series victory, only strengthens their belief.
“He’s incredible,” sophomore third baseman Jose Brizuela said. “I want to call him Superman. I don’t know how he does football and baseball, and still comes out here throwing ‘ched.’”
Then we talked to some of your coaches in both sports, and they can’t say enough about your work ethic and your thirst for knowledge. Everyone knows about your talent – that many considered you the No. 1 quarterback in the country coming out of high school and that you also were drafted in the 15th round of the MLB draft – but that’s not what they bring up first.
They talk about your dedication. About your intelligence. And about your ability to apply what they have taught you almost immediately.
It’s why assistant baseball coach Mike Martin Jr. was convinced you could bolster the Seminoles’ batting lineup, and why pitching coach Mike Bell was sure you could help in the bullpen. And why football coach Jimbo Fisher believed your splitting time between the two sports wouldn’t inhibit your ability to win the starting quarterback job … this year.
With the spring game just a few days away, it’s hard to tell if you’re going to accomplish that just yet. Coach Fisher doesn’t let us watch much of practice, and we know you had a lot of ground to make up on junior Clint Trickett and sophomore Jacob Coker. But we’re hearing a lot of good things, man.
We’ve heard whispers about some of your beautiful passes. And a little birdie told us the other day that Fisher made you “live” during one portion of practice – meaning you were allowed to have full-contact – just to see what you could do.
And the word is that you ran over a defender or two near the goal line.
Now that’s not fair, Jameis. That’s not fair at all.
We know that you still have a lot of room for improvement in both sports. And we understand there are bound to be tough times and difficult moments during this journey.
While your teammates may feel the urge to compare you to a super hero, we're mature enough to at least try to keep things in perspective.
We are trying, Jameis.
But you are making this tougher than we expected. And you’re doing it far sooner than any of us imagined.
Story from the Tallahassee Democrat