Jameis Winston is the headline player in the BCS National Championship Game between Florida State and Auburn. He won the Heisman Trophy this season, the Walter Camp Award, the Davey O’Brien Award, and he was voted AP Player of the Year. He has Florida State 13-0 and looking to become recognized as one of the best college teams ever (a notion I laugh at) if he can pull off the win over Auburn. He’s also one of the more controversial players starring in a national title game in recent memory.
Winston turned 20 on Monday, the day of the national title game. He was 19 when he won the Heisman Trophy, making him the youngest Heisman winner ever and second freshman to win the award. The only other freshman to win the Heisman is Johnny Manziel, who won it last season. The two young quarterbacks have actually become close, with Winston seeking advice from Manziel on dealing with distractions, and Johnny Football expressing his support for FSU.
But the off-field distractions for each player have been much different.
Winston has been at Florida State for two years. Last year, he redshirted behind star quarterback E.J. Manuel, who later became the first quarterback selected in the 2013 NFL draft. Though Winston didn’t play football last season, he played baseball for the Seminoles as a true freshman.
A pitcher and outfielder, Winston was drafted in the 15th round of the MLB draft by the Texas Rangers in 2012, but he elected to go to college. He played in 41 games last season, starting 32: 20 as a right fielder, 2 as a left fielder, and 10 as a DH. He batted .235 with 9 RBIs. He made 17 appearances as a reliever, going 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 27 innings. The point is that Winston was an athlete on campus in the 2012-2013 school year, but not a star when he first was investigated for an alleged sexual assault.