“They are lying.” “They hype up every new quarterback like he is the next superman cape wearing Charlie Ward.” “He will probably be the next Chris Rix.” “If he was that good he would have beaten out EJ Manuel.”
As a Hurricane fan, these were the comments running through my head as I tuned in to watch FSU take on Pitt in 2013. A prime time road game for the Seminoles as Jimbo Fisher was marching out a red shirt freshman making his first start.
Way before he was walking out the local Publix with crab legs and threatening to grab them right in the you know where, Jameis Winston had a coming out party. One that, even though you’re a rival, you couldn’t help but notice.
Surgical. That is what I thought watching Winston’s first half performance. I fully thought that Jimbo would ease the first time starter with a conservative quick and short pass game plan. Nope. Deep and intermediate passes peppered the yard and Pitt was bamboozled 28-10 at half.
Winston started his Seminole career 17-18 with 240 passing yards. He had four total touchdowns including three passing and also scurried in for one rushing.
At the break I recall thinking just how unflappable Winston was. Sure, odd that he kept squinting towards the sideline but you couldn’t help be wide eyed over his pristine prime time performance.
Winston played like a 5th year senior and you could sense early on he dripped with confidence.
Fast forward and Winston finished 25 for 27, 356 and four air strikes. It was the highest completion percentage in FSU history with a minimum of 15 attempts. His NFL career is littered with interceptions but that night? The panthers could not paw a single one.
I knew that night he was going to be a perpetual problem for the Hurricanes. He was. The Hurricanes never beat number five for the garnet and gold. So many back breaking moments and every time there was that smile you just wanted to vigorously wipe off his face.
Jameis Winston's career at Florida St:— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 7, 2015
• 26-1 record
• 7,964 Pass yds, 65 TD
• Heisman trophy
• National Championship pic.twitter.com/G50oJNUAFp
He was so frustrating to watch. He often times spoke nonsensically and his pregame speeches made you want to vomit. You poll Hurricane fans and they would unilaterally agree that Jameis Winston is the most annoying Seminole ever.
But that September in 2013 when Winston took the field? When that hype was proven to be real? You couldn’t do anything except tip your cap. It’s rivalry week. You hate them. You always will. But no rivalry can exist without the villain. Winston just happened to be great at it.