Prospect to Prosperous


One Man’s Take On (and a little bit of an ode to) Jameis Winston’s Career at Florida State

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Let me begin by saying that Jameis Winston is quite the polarizing figure. He probably always will be. As someone who was enrolled at Florida State throughout his whole career, who cheered when he signed his letter of intent, who had his dreams fulfilled when he won the Seminoles a national championship; I’m not a little bias. I’m a lot bias. So this is anything but an objective piece.

One text from him and I’d steal crab legs.

I’d stand on top of a mountain with him and yell, “FHRITP!”

I’d say something about him using ketchup cups for sodas, but everyone does that. That’s the number one life-hack of… life.

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Yes. I think Jameis can do no wrong.

But draft day has passed us. Jameis Winston signed his contract. He has chosen his number for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It’s official. From this point forward, Jameis Winston will be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer first and a former Florida State Seminole second.

So I thought, what better time to give an ode to Jameis Winston’s career as a Seminole? Schools out. I’m trying to get back in the blog game (as always). And if there’s one thing I can talk about, it’s J5, Famous Jameis, Fameis, Jameis Christ, Jaboo, Mr. Do It Big Then.

Pre Famous: Winston is Coming

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My first year at Florida State (2011) began with a tragedy… the tragedy that was the loss to Oklahoma, 23-13.

I had been a Seminole fan for all of four games, but the atmosphere surrounding that game was unlike anything I had experience before and anything I would experience after.

FSU was coming back. We were bringing back the glory days of the 1990s. All we had to do was beat the No. 1 team in the nation, Oklahoma.

But we didn’t. We loss. And it let all of Nole Nation know that at least for that year, we weren’t winning a National Championship.

Devastation.

However, at the same time, Florida State had a young man from Bessemer, Alabama (only 50 miles from Tuscaloosa and Nick Saban), already verbally committed to the team.

I knew. I wasn’t big into recruiting, but I followed it well enough to know that we had a stud of a quarterback coming to Tallahassee, and that 2011 might not be the year, but a title could come down the road with this Jameis Winston character at the helm.

The only problem was that he was also considering baseball.

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I remember that offseason I was nervous that he might choose the Bigs over coming to Florida State. He’d make money faster if he went and played baseball, right? (Free Shoes [or Seafood] University aside).

Jameis was drafted by the Rangers in the 15th round but never signed with them. He signed with the Seminoles and before long he was enrolled.

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It was still EJ’s team in 2012, but whispers of Jameis began sprinkling throughout Tallahassee. “If not 2012, then 2014 will be our year with Jameis!” were things being said.

After the season ended (again without a National Championship and losses to NC State and UF that still make Seminole fans feel some type of way), we said “adios EJ” and eagerly waited for the next QB1.

Most people wanted our prized recruit to take the reins, but don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that there weren’t Jacob Coker and Clint Trickett factions. There were, but most disappeared after the Spring Game. Jameis’ first throw was a 58 yard touchdown over 2013 consensus All-American Lamarcus Joyner. He finished 12-for-15 with 205 yards and two touchdowns. Coker quickly became quite the afterthought, and Clint Trickett transferred not long after.

He saw the writing was on the wall and so did everyone else. It said, “Jameis.”

Year 1: Destroying the Death Star

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2013 came. The Seminoles saw. And then they went unconquered.

And it couldn’t have been done without our Jameis Winston.

Let’s start with Game 1: @ Pittsburgh.

Tough game really. Redshirt freshman quarterback making his first start of his career on a primetime televised game to kick off the season? On Monday Night Football? On Labor Day? On the road against at the very least a slightly formidable Pittsburgh team? And the whole world’s watching?

Good fuckin luck.

Jameis finished 25-for-27 with 356 yards and four touchdowns. The man had two incompletions. Two.

Florida State won 41-13. It was quite the display, but ended up only being a taste of what was to come.

What Jameis did in year one was magical enough to make Gandalf jealous. The “PraiseJameis” hash tags and multiple Jesus murals of him were warranted. Those were the images and thoughts invoked into those who watched him.

Jameis seemed to be going deep every play. He looked like a college quarterback still playing high school ball. He made plays that leprechauns and unicorns would find, “unrealistic”.

I’m still unsure of what happened at Clemson that year.

I was at the stadium in the lower level bowl. It was the loudest crowd I had ever heard. Clemson was ranked number 3 in the nation.

AND WE DESTROYED THEM!

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Jameis threw for 444 yards and three touchdowns. He also had a rushing touchdown. We beat them 51-14, and 7 of Clemson’s points came in the last 15 seconds when all the back-ups were in.

I remember walking around their stadium before the game and thinking about how nice the Clemson fans were. Easily some of the nicest group of people I’ve ever met.

I FELT AWFUL HOW BAD WE BEAT THEM!… ALL THAT HOSPITALITITY FOR NOTHING!

FSU showed no mercy that season and when it was all said and done, Winston walked away with the Heisman Trophy and the team walked away with a National Championship.

Pause.

What’s been lost since the 59-20 loss to Oregon and FSU not reclaiming its National Title is the fact that WE DID. IN FACT. WIN IT. LAST YEAR.

We did that. That was us. I was there. You were there. We were all there.

It wasn’t fifteen years ago. It was one and a couple months. We witnessed it. We were students. We cried in Pasadena and lit couches on fire in the streets of Tallahassee.

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Kelvin Benjamin back of the endzone?… Unforgettable!

The fashion that Jameis and the 2013 Seminoles did it though made it all the more special.

Let me get nerdy real quick here…

Jameis Winston and the 2013 team embodied Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance! For kicks and giggles, Jimbo can be Obi-Wan.

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… Stay with me here…

The SEC (or the Empire) had a strangle hold on all of College Football the last six seasons. From Tallahassee (or Tattooine) came a young man who would secure victories before taking on the Empire in the biggest showdown in the game… and then would walk away victorious.

You can make parallels to Jameis’s old Quarterback coach (Dameyune Craig) who left Florida State to be the co-offensive coordinator at Auburn being the Darth Vader to Jameis’ Luke, Gus Malzahn/Nick Saban being the evil Emperor, or even Red Lightning being a Chewbacca-like figure… but we don’t even have to go there.

What we do know is that Jameis and those rebels brought balance back to the Force… I mean College Football…

Florida State made the SEC Schools beatable. One must look no further than the National Championship game this year. While Florida State wasn’t in it, neither was any other SEC school. It was the Pac-12 versus the Big 10. Who would have thunk-it prior to Florida State beating Auburn last year?

Jameis and the rest of that team brought us to the mountain top. We did it big. Florida State can no longer be seen as just a team that was good in the nineties. It became a program for multiple generations and took itself into one of the tops in the country.

4,000 passing yards and 40 touchdown passes. Hard to see it being accomplished without number 5.

And that’s only half of the Jameis Winston story…

Year 2: Dark Knight Feeling

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What followed, no one saw coming. After all, Star Wars VII hadn’t been released yet.

In essence, Jameis Winston (Luke Skywalker) and the Florida State program (the Rebel Alliance) found themselves slowly shifting into… Darth Vader and the evil Empire…

Seminole Nation had become the thing they had just defeated and despised the most. But it was different.

The hate that the SEC received was concentrated at 14 different schools.

With Florida State, it was one. One school. One town. And one player.

“Dark Knight feeling. Die and be a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Jay-Z says on Kanye West’s “So Appalled”.

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FSU didn’t die soon enough to go down in history as a hero. If Jameis is drafted after the national championship win and the team fades into obscurity, then FSU goes down as the hero of heroes, the school that finally stopped the SEC, a ragtag group of men with an eccentric quarterback as their leader.

But that didn’t happen. Jameis wasn’t draft eligible. The team kept winning. They got their cake and wanted to eat it in front of everyone. No sharing.

In 2014, we all witnessed Florida State and Jameis Winston become quite possibly the greatest villain in College Football history.

Exaggeration? Perhaps.

Not that there had been teams with more controversy before, because there has, but I personally don’t think there was a team that had such controversy, flirted so immensely with losing, but NEVER. LOSS… until the very end.

That was the 2014 team.

I thought (as a Junior) at the end of the National Championship game that, “Man. Lucky Class of 2014. They get to go out with a National Championship. Nothing’s better than that.”

I was wrong.

Nothing’s better than defending it.

In 2014, Florida State had five primetime kickoffs, not including two that were kicked off at 7:30 and another at 6:30. FSU was always in the spotlight and people across the nation watched religiously. Seminole fans watched in the hopes to see them win, and EVERYONE ELSE IN THE NATION watched to see them hopefully lose.

The nation was tired of us. They were tired of seeing FSU win. They were tired of Jameis and his antics. They were tired of the city of Tallahassee “enabling” him and the rest of the team.

Stealing crab legs? Thief.

BB Guns? Thug.

FHRITP? Immature.

Tallahassee Police Department? Football-loving bozos.

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Sexual Assualt Allegation?… Uhhh… I only bring it up because I have to. It was a huge part of the hate FSU received, but I won’t go any further than that.

Either way, the nation hated FSU and they had the ammunition to fuel the hate. Yes, it was Florida State, Tallahassee, Jameis Winston vs. THE WORLD.

And for quarters the Seminoles teased at making the nation happy with close-calls, but when it came down to crunch time, FSU week after week broke the nation’s hearts.

It was literally like giving candy to a baby, watching it get excited, and then taking it away. Time and time again. Every week.

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Down 13-7 to Virginia. Down 9-7 to Florida. Down 21-14 to Georgia Tech. Down 16-0 to Miami. Down 24-7 to NC State. Down 21-0 to Lousivlle.

All. Wins. All of them.

And the list goes on. The list is absurd.

The last second win against Notre Dame. Clemson in overtime. The game winning field goal against Boston College.

Florida State turned the difficult to a joke, and the impossible into easy.

Watching it live was hard on my heart. I threw pillows out windows watching the away games, needed to be consoled at games at home and gave up almost every game.

“This is it!”

“Season’s over!”

“The sky is falling!”

Those were quotes from me every week. I was far from the kid who never lost hope or never doubted the team. I lost hope all the time. I doubted the team ten seconds into the first quarter. I’m very much a Chicken Little fan.

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But they proved me wrong. Again and again and again and again and again and again. It was beautiful. It was magical. It was not something I’d like to relive again, but something that I’m glad that I got to experience because there is nothing like it.

The season didn’t end like the one prior. We didn’t walk away with the Heisman and National Championship trophy. We watched Oregon’s Marcus Mariota take the Heisman and then watched him and his team, knock us out of the inaugural College Football Playoff before a chance at the National Championship.

It was tough. I gave up Sportsceneter for two months following the game. I still don’t know who won the Superbowl.

But the season as a whole was still quite the magical run, and quite possibly gave us more memories than the previous one.

And at the heart of hearts of all those memories were Jameis Winston.

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The Future: The Bessemer Buccaneer

When Sean Maguire started for Jameis against Clemson this year, I refused to call him his name. I called him everything from Earl Maguire to Sean MaGowan.

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I started a chant, “No picks! No sacks!” for him, only to watch him throw a pick or get sacked.

He wasn’t awful… I mean he kinda was… But more than anything, he wasn’t Jameis.

Earl will-… I mean Sean… Sean will have the greatest shoes to fill next year. I wish all the luck to him. I want to see Florida State to continue to succeed, but the pressure will be on and that’s because of the bar that Jameis Winston set.

He went 26-1. He won every important award there was. He won us a National Championship. The bar is set wayyy high. I’m not even sure Sean can see it.

But as I said, Jameis has been drafted.

He’s no longer ours. He’s the Bucs and their fans. We get Sean.

The only bar Jameis can raise now is the “Seminole QBs in the NFL” bar… which could use some raising…

He’s in the business of making memories for the Buccaneers now. He has done his time in Tallahassee, and it was quite the ride.

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As someone who was raised in Tampa from the age of 2 to 18, I’m excited to see what he does in the NFL. I will definitely be rooting for him on Sundays. He’s probably officially my favorite player in the NFL now and he has even taken a preseason snap yet.

But whether he racks off three Superbowl rings or flames out in a couple years, there’s no denying that what he did here in Tallahassee for Florida State and its fans was something special. I’m waiting for the statue to be built. I’m waiting to see him at National Championship reunions. I’m waiting to watch that 30 for 30: Jameis Wisnton special documentary… It’s gotta be coming.

So Jameis, I’ll wrap this article up with this:

You will be missed. RIP to your Florida State Seminole career. It was once in a lifetime.

And if they build a statue for you, I just hope that someone on the design team stands up at a planning meeting and says, “If we gon’ do it then, we do it big then!” and it puts a smile on everyone’s face.

And then they make it really big.

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