— Though he grew up in Bessemer, Ala., in a family mostly made up of Alabama fans, save for his mom who roots for Auburn, he never chose sides in the heated rivalry. “When you’re born in that state, you have to be either this or that. Obviously, when I first started football, Oklahoma winning, ‘Boomer Sooner’ baby. I just roll with that.” Though he did concede that playing the Tigers is a “rivalry game” for him.
In Tallahassee, Fla., Winston was looming on the horizon all last season after he came to Florida State as a five-star recruit. He is also a baseball star and FSU gave him the opportunity to play both sports for championship contending teams. Seminoles fans dubbed him Famous Jameis before he threw a pass in a game and he had them giddy after a spectacular spring game performance.
Around the country, most college football fans found out about Winston on Labor Day night, when in his start he completed 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards in a victory at Pittsburgh.
“Honestly, I wasn’t really surprised,” quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders said. “I was a little bit in awe, I think, like a lot of people, just the poise and composure that he had. You saw it every day in spring practice, through the summer, through the fall. But for it to show up on game day that way, that was nice to see.”
Winston went on to break freshman records for yards passing (3,820) and touchdown passes (38) as Florida State crushed opponent after opponent. He sees no reason that has to stop against Auburn.
“Where in the rulebook does it say we can’t blow out every team we play?” Winston said. “Because it’s a championship game? We can do anything we want.”
His problems this season came in November, when a year-old sexual assault complaint against him became public and was passed along by Tallahassee police to the Florida state attorney’s office for a full investigation. A female Florida State student claims Winston raped her. Winston’s attorney has said the sex was consensual. Prosecutors did not find enough evidence to charge him with a crime and the case was closed two days before the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.