Friday, December 20, 2013
FSU teammates keep Winston grounded
By David M. Hale
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In case Jameis Winston throughout life as a Heisman Trophy winner would be easy, his teammates were quick to knock him back down a peg after he returned from his New York City whirlwind.
“He’s not getting any different treatment,” receiver Rashad Greene said. “Actually, he gets treated worse.”
Greene joked that teammates were quick to remind Winston of their own contributions that helped him win the award and teased him about all the media attention he received.
Heisman Trophy winners have won their last four bowl games, a trend Jameis Winston aims to continue.
Of course, there was little need for reminders. Winston has worked to keep the spotlight on his teammates all season.
“He’s a tremendous team guy,” Jimbo Fisher said. “His drive for teamwork and winning, ultimately not being an individual guy, and his drive to be great individually for his team, I think, are two things that keep that in perspective for him.”
Winston confessed he wasn’t even sure of the exact location of the trophy Thursday — saying it was “somewhere” in the building so teammates could have their pictures taken with it. Requests for those photo opportunities have been constant since Winston returned from New York on Tuesday, and when the pictures are snapped, he’s made a point to ensure his name isn’t front and center.
“I said, ‘Thank you. This is your trophy,’” Winston said. “And I let them take a picture with it, and I covered up the name tag while they were taking the picture, because without them, I’m nothing.”
The media circus following Winston’s Heisman win required little adjustment for the redshirt freshman. He’s been in the spotlight all year.
From a highly publicized quarterback competition in fall camp to a dominant debut on national TV to the media scrutiny during a sexual assault investigation last month, Winston has been the talk of college football, and his teammates have helped insulate him from the outside pressure. Now that he’s celebrating all the on-field accomplishments, that mentality hasn’t changed.
“That’s one thing I love about Jameis — he’s not going to change when other people around him do,” linebacker Telvin Smith said. “The more people get around him, the more he comes to us and embraces us as a team, more than going out there to be Famous Jameis.”
Winston was happy to be back at work this week. After making the rounds on the banquet circuit and reading the top-10 list for David Letterman early in the week, he landed in Tallahassee on Tuesday and immediately headed to the practice field for seven-on-seven drills.
All the publicity was a whirlwind, Winston said, and getting back to football was a relief.
“That’s what I look forward to — come back, be with the guys and practice,” Winston said.
Shrugging off the distractions in favor of the on-field work hasn’t always been easy for Heisman winners. From 2000 through 2008, seven of nine Heisman winners lost their respective bowl games — including a 1-7 record in the national title game. But in the past few years that trend has reversed, with Heisman winners pulling out a victory in four straight bowl games — twice for national titles.
Fisher praised Winston’s handling of this week’s media blitz, and he said he’s confident his quarterback hasn’t lost a step in the wake of all the hype. A season’s worth of distractions never knocked Winston off course, so there’s little reason to think that would change now.