I think he wanted to stay in school.
After his father let everybody know that Jameis Winston would let his decision be known after the National Championship game next week, less than 24 hours later, word got out that Winston had made up his mind to turn professional.
Winston’s statement, published by his agent, had the usual thank you’s and praise for his teammates, his coaches and Florida State. He also promised “Seminole Nation” that he’d represent them proudly at the next level.
But I think he wanted to stay.
Winston leapt into the spotlight last year in his first game. He threw four touchdown passes and looked invincible. He stayed at that high level all year long with 38 TD passes and only 10 interceptions. He won the Heisman Trophy and helped the ‘Noles win the National Championship. There was an investigation into rape allegations that came out late in the year but no charges were filed.
Things looked rosy for Winston. But as the year progressed, several other incidents occurred, some criminal, some college pranks, some just plain stupid. But as they added up, although in different categories, they all tarnished his image and in turn, the FSU football program.
Winston admitted at the Rose Bowl that he didn’t go out much in the last couple of months, only leaving his apartment to go to school and practice. He stopped having fun. Albeit self-inflicted, Winston’s notoriety and his own actions had forced him inside and halted his fun march through college life. He said after last week’s loss to Oregon that he was looking forward to playing baseball in Tallahassee this spring. As a student, he was having fun, enjoying himself, sometimes too much and at other people’s expense. Nobody’s feeling sorry for Winston, but his changing situation changed his mind about staying at FSU.
A lot of people tried to help Winston during his college journey. Even fellow Alabaman and Heisman Trophy Winner Bo Jackson threw his hands up and stopped trying to help. So Jameis’ circle grew smaller and smaller, with less and less fun and higher and higher expectations.
So he decided to turn pro.
He’ll be prodded and poked, talked to and provoked in the vetting process that leads up to the NFL Draft. His throwing motion and his footwork will be dissected. His football acumen will be questioned. But most of all they’ll try to figure out if a multi-million dollar investment in Winston with a top pick will disappear because of his lack of judgment off the field.
And then somebody will take him with the top selection.