From Tomahawk Nation's Birmingham contributor Jordan Wilbanks
With all the cameras and autographs and smiles, you could tell Jameis Winston was one of the most highly recruited football players in the country. But you wouldn't have known it by the way he walked in the room to sign his letter of intent to Florida State, or by the way he carried himself throughout the event. He was gracious toward all the people who had obviously meant so much to him, and stopped to embrace each one and give them his appreciation. Behind Winston, the event organizers had hung the jerseys from his all-star games.
By the way his trainer and coach spoke about him, you could tell he had had a significant impact on both of them. Jameis Winston is no dumb jock, and he made that evident today. His coach at Hueytown High School, Matt Scott, spoke to the attendees and said that Jameis was "the most vicious player and the most unselfish player on Fridays I've ever been around."
Scott also said that Jameis never once complained to him about wanting to boost his stats. Hueytown had two running backs that averaged over 6 yards a carry and Jameis was content to spread the ball around or hand it off. Scott beamed with pride as he introduced Jameis to the cameras to put down on paper where he would be playing college football and college baseball.
First, and never taking himself too seriously, Winston thanked everyone, saying "This is one of the biggest days of my life...except for deciding who I'm going to marry."
He did not make a big show of stating very clearly that he would be signing to go to Florida State University, as expected. Putting on the FSU hat, that was handed to him, his infectious smile reflected his statement that he was "ready to get this whole process over".
Winston claimed that he had known he was going to Florida State for a while. When asked about the possibilities of attending Stanford or Alabama, Jameis had this to say
"Alabama is where my whole family wanted me to go, besides my parents. When I went to Alabama, I thought, 'this is where everybody from the state of Alabama goes.' But when I went to Florida State, I knew it was where I belong."
He said that Stanford was tempting, once he got accepted. Now that they are a BCS-contending school in football, and because they have such a good baseball program, he was definitely honored to be accepted. But FSU had been in his heart the whole time.
Concerning FSU, I asked him what goes through his head when he thinks about the future teammates in this signing class.
Shaking his head, he just replied, "Wow! We have a great defense, good running backs, offensive linemen that are very young." Then he almost reminded himself though that he's got to "get in the books and earn his spot". A little taste of humility...perhaps rare for someone his age thrust into the national spotlight.
He was also excited about the friendship between Coach Fisher and Coach Mike Martin, Jr. Because the two coaches and their families are so close, he knows he'll have the opportunity to work out doing both baseball and football at FSU. But the elephant in the room was the looming MLB draft. He laughed and declined to answer a reporter's question about what he'll do if he's taken in the first round.
Winston talked about how Florida State was his girlfriend, and how he had to stay committed to the commitment he made.
"Anywhere I went, I was recruiting"..."God blessed me to come this far, He's gonna bless me to go all the way," said Winston.
I spoke with Matt Scott afterward, and asked him how impressed he was with Fisher and his staff's job recruiting. "Very impressed," he replied. "I told these schools and the coaches coming in, I told them 'You can't come in here with the car salesman deal with this guy." Scott commented on Jameis being "very sharp" and "media savvy", noting how well Winston carries himself.
Jimbo Fisher on QB Jameis Winston: "He brings a lot of things to the table. We think he's one of the great ones out there." "Jameis is a true impact guy."
"He is a better person than he is a player and that's saying a lot." -FSU baseball coach Mike Martin
Winston signs an autograph for a young 'Nole fan.