Jameis Winston, FSU return to field
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher occasionally sees it in his quarterback's eyes. From time to time he catches the reigning Heisman Trophy winner ambling through practice. Sometimes his throws suffer from the strain of multi-sport two-a-days.
This is what redshirt sophomore Jameis Winston signed up for -- begged for, really -- when he enrolled at Florida State. He was promised the opportunity to pursue football and baseball, and he was equally excited for the second year of juggling both as he was as a freshman last spring during a heated quarterback competition.
Which is why Winston is working in a baseball series around the annual spring football game once again. But unlike last year, when Florida State's baseball team hosted Duke, Winston sandwiched in the Garnet and Gold game between a series against Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Hours after the spring game ended, he was on a plane to join the baseball team.
"I wish I could of played in [Saturday's baseball] game, I wish we had a night game so I could rush and skip all [the interviews] and play," Winston said.
Early in the spring game, Winston had the look of a player whose week consisted of a baseball doubleheader (Sunday), football scrimmage (Monday), football practice (Wednesday), two midweek baseball games (Tuesday and Friday) and much of the last 48 hours on the road. The No. 1 offense's first four drives ended with a three-and-out and three turnovers -- one an interception into triple coverage.
As the game progressed, Winston and the offense found its rhythm, and he finished the afternoon with 27 completions on 56 attempts for 396 yards and two scores. He nearly had a third, but his final throw went incomplete in the end zone as he orchestrated a two-minute drill to close out the game. Winston's Garnet team earned a 31-14 victory over the Gold team.
"I thought Jameis started out slow early. We didn't have many guys open and that secondary was locking them down," Fisher said. "We gradually got guys open and he made some throws."
The spring game is the 15th and final practice for the Seminoles until fall camp, which allows Winston to devote much of his time to baseball once again. Some publications rank the Seminoles as the nation's No. 1 team in baseball, and they are an early favorite to reach Omaha and make an extended run in the College World Series through late June. As much as Winston says he enjoys flipping between baseball and football, the exhaustion on the 6-foot-4, 235-pound quarterback and his right arm was becoming apparent.
Saturday marks the last time he will switch this spring as he will board a plane to Atlanta to finish off the Georgia Tech series with the Noles' baseball team. In Friday's series opener against the Yellow Jackets, Winston entered the game at left field in the eighth and flied out in his lone plate appearance. Following the 2013 spring game, in which Winston went 12-of-15 for 205 yards and two touchdowns, he walked to the baseball stadium across the parking lot and reached base three times.
Baseball coach Mike Martin is not appeasing the university's most recognizable face simply by letting him moonlight as a pitcher and outfielder when he's not in shoulder pads. Winston is an instrumental piece in the Noles' bullpen, serving as the team's closer. Winston is second on the team in ERA (1.76) and No. 1 in batting average against among pitchers with at least 10 innings accumulated.
"That's just him," Martin told reporters this week. "That's just the way he operates. He loves to be involved."
Winston earned a save and had an RBI walk in the eighth inning Sunday against Georgia Tech to keep alive a rally that helped Florida State take the lead that inning.
Following Wednesday's practice, Fisher said he has sensed his quarterback feeling overworked at times. It wasn't always apparent in his throws, but could be seen in his demeanor. Fisher saw a 20-year-old possibly overexposing himself at times.
That's what Winston wants, though, and when Fisher asked if he needed a break, Winston relented.
"Physically, some days I was drained. I'm a busy man. I got to study and I'm a regular college student. Football is not my job yet," Winston said. "I got to carry out my everyday life. I'm going to be tired sometimes and if Jimbo asks me, 'Jameis,are you tired?' I'm going to say, 'No, coach.' It's how college life is but I love it."
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