As ACC Kickoff — the conference’s media days — began on Sunday, it was no surprise that Florida State quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston was the star of the show in Greensboro. After a tough offseason which included the theft of seafood from a local supermarket and the Title IX investigation of a pair of teammates for their roles in Winston’s alleged sexual assault that took place in December of 2012, Winston reminded many on Sunday why so many fell in love with him in the first place.
Winston had his usual charm opening with a joke about how Florida State and the ACC ended the SEC’s reign of seven straight BCS titles. With a big smile, Winston also gave a candid answer on whether or not he’s ready for the 2014 football season to begin. “Of course I’m ready for football, man, what kind of question is that?,” said Winston. “I’m always ready.”
Despite emerging as one of the biggest stars in sports, Winston’s smile and charismatic nature remained unchanged. Whenever asked of individual accolades or expectations, Winston was quick to deflect the conversation to team goals. Winston spoke of his skill players’ viability claiming that he dared opposing teams to play man coverage. Winston was also quick to credit his offensive line, calling them the best in the country and the hardest working unit on the team.
While there was no shortage of questions pertaining to Winston’s recent troubles off the field, the Florida State quarterback maintained his poise and calm demeanor just as he seems to on the football field. “You always have to have a smile on your face,” said the reigning Heisman winner. “Leadership is not only on the field — it’s off the field too. I know I have guys looking up to me, and I know I have a lot of support from my teammates as well.”
Perhaps the most important thing that Winston said on Sunday however, was that he’s learned from his mistakes. If that’s true, Winston will have the chance to resurrect his image as the charming leader and goofy, but humble kid that brought so many to his corner early last season.
After throwing 40 touchdowns a season ago, winning the Heisman Trophy and leading his school to a third national championship, Winston will need to accomplish little else on the football field to cement his place as one of the best ever to play at FSU. For the overall legacy of Jameis Winston however, the Seminole signal-caller will need to prove that his off-the-field run-ins are a thing of the past and that the person he appears to be in front of a camera is not simply a facade.
There is nothing left for Winston to prove on the field, but showing that he has learned from his mistakes may be a bigger and ultimately more important challenge. At ACC Kickoff on Sunday, Winston reminded us why he’s such an easy kid to pull for. It’s now up to him to show us that he’s more than just a great football player.