- Jamie Newberg, RecruitingNation
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HUEYTOWN, Ala. -- Jameis Winston (Hueytown, Ala.) is a seasoned veteran in more ways than one. The nation's top quarterback prospect was asked where he currently stands with his Florida State commitment while on the podium for The American Family Insurance presents the Under Armour All-America Game selection tour Tuesday morning from his high school. Winston answered it like a pro.
"I am not worried about that right now," Winston told the crowd. "We have a state championship to win. College can wait."
That's the thing about Winston: Right now, it's all about his teammates and winning the coveted state title ring his senior year.
"I want to congratulate Jameis and his parents for this honor," said Mark Scott, Hueytown's head coach. "He has worked hard to put himself in this position and to play in an all-star game of this magnitude. Today, he wanted this [American Family/Under Armour presentation] at 9 a.m. so he could share it with his teammates. That's the time they could all be here."
The Under Armour All-America Game was one of the things Winston watched while growing up. His parents, Antonor and Loretta Winston, both knew that this chance could soon one day come.
"It's a true blessing," said his dad. "It's here and we are so excited. We watched all those all-star games."
Winston is having an All-America type of senior season. The most important stat is that his Hueytown team in unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in 5A. Much of that is because of Winston's play. For the season he is 101-of-149 for 1,432 yards, 19 touchdown passes and only one interception. He's completed 68 percent of his attempts, and of his 48 incompletions, 22 have been drops. Last week he was 25-of-29 for 320 yards and five total touchdowns. All four incompletions were dropped passes. For his career, Winston has 8,374 yards of total offense and 89 touchdowns.
"Jameis' mechanics have really improved," Scott said. "We tried to shorten his motion and stride in the pocket. We have worked on sharpening his skills and he's a whole lot better than last year. Many athletes of his caliber don't get that much better in high school because they need comparable competition all the time. But he has."
For Winston, he has a simple quarterback philosophy.
"You have to be good at decision making," he said. "You can't be a good quarterback and throw a lot of picks. You just can't do that."
Decision making is certainly one of his better attributes. In fact, Scott and his staff have so much confidence that they allow Winston to call many of the team's plays at the line of scrimmage. That's almost unheard of, especially at the high school level.
"I took this job in July before his sophomore season," Scott said. "I knew after about a week that he was something special. The best part of his game is his ability to pick things up so quickly. He's so fast with that. I have never seen anyone like it. Never. I started having him call some run plays that first season as a sophomore. Now, I bet he calls half the plays. We send in a package of several runs and throws and he decides at the line of scrimmage. All I can say is that it comes so easy to him. I know I couldn't do it with the play clock ticking down."
That's a lot to throw on any quarterback, but Winston can handle it. He knows his team depends on his decisions and play.
"Hey, I just don't want to mess it up," Winston said. "I can't let him or my teammates down. If I am confused, I just take it. But most of the time I just feel like I am playing 'Madden' football."
Winston wasn't joking. For him, at least now, the game comes easy to him. They are winning and he's putting up very impressive numbers.
"I know there are people out there that can throw the ball better," Scott said. "I know there are people out there that run the ball better. But nobody can do them both as good as him. When he runs, he's a violent player. Sometimes I feel like I have to put a chain on him. And he's a fierce competitor on the field. Certainly his teammates feed off that."
There has been quite the Internet chatter of late that Winston is still looking around. He recently went to the Vanderbilt/Alabama game, but he still insists that he's all Seminole.
"I am comfortable in my decision for FSU but I am weighing my options," Winston said. "I am still committed to FSU as of right now.
"When I committed to FSU I had to make sure that I would have people come with me and I am one of their biggest recruiters right now."
That's about all you will get from the 6-foot-4, 200-pound signal-caller. While signing day is quickly approaching for Winston, so is the Major League Baseball draft next June. Last season, he pitched and played shortstop and center field, hitting .380 with seven home runs. Yes, he's one of America's top baseball talents, and scouts like him in the outfield.
"I am taking everything slow but I am considering the draft," Winston said. "When the time comes, I will be ready."
That's the thing about Winston. He's day-to-day. Can you blame him? He just wants to be a normal senior and have fun his senior year. Meanwhile, Florida State's Jimbo Fisher, Alabama's Nick Saban and countless others are doing everything they can do persuade him to come to their college and the riches of pro baseball could be just around the corner. Despite the attention, accolades and endless possibilities, Winston has handled everything in stride.
"It started back in the ninth grade," his father said. "But we kept him grounded, especially his mom. Coach Scott has also done an excellent job and a lot of credit has to go to him. I guess you can say it's been a group effort. And Jameis just takes it in stride. To be honest, he's not concerned about anything and we are more stressed than he is."
No one would turn down the position that Winston finds himself in.
"I have my friends, teammates and a cute little girlfriend that I have to make happy every day," Winston said. "I just chill and my favorite thing is watching cartoons. I like football and it's my passion. When baseball is here, baseball is my passion and love. I am taking everything slow and trying to be a regular kid."
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.