It's one thing to keep your composure and stay focused when everything is going your way - like it has for Florida State's Jameis Winston through the first two games - but it's a completely different story how you handle yourself when things aren't going your way.
The Florida State Seminoles got their first taste of adversity Saturday night against visiting Bethune-Cookman, and the outcome was promising. While Wildcat fans would like to think that their team had something to do with the adversity, that wasn't the case. Weather conditions and sloppy play had a much bigger role. The 'Noles entered Saturday's game without a dropped pass, but there were numerous Saturday night - two of which were wide-open, guaranteed touchdowns. But this didn't faze the young Winston, it just added fuel to his fire as he finished his night 10-for-19 with 148 yards and 2 touchdowns..
"It's not hard to keep him grounded or focused because he loves the game," head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "When he makes a mistake, instead of coming off the field sulking, he's coming back that much harder."
And this is evident when you watch him on the field. The leadership qualities shine, the competitive edge is clear. There's a lack of chatter on the field after a dropped pass or a missed read - there's a quiet confidence. There isn't a need for complaining or placing blame - he's not Silky John-ston, and this isn't the 'Player Haters Ball'. Winston's demeanor is beyond his years, and this doesn't go unnoticed by his teammates.
"Jameis knows what he has to do and he actually settles everyone else down," redshirt junior left tackle Cam Erving said. "That's what people don't understand when they're watching from the stands. He's just a great player. A lot of the things that he does - the intangibles - you can't coach it. It's a blessing and an honor to have that in our quarterback."
While those intangibles are undoubtedly irreplaceable, the skill set is just as crucial. With a skill set like Winston's, it's important to find a way to allow him to play loose and stay confident. And being surrounded by experienced, battle-tested players allows Winston to do just that. His veteran teammates are his anchor, giving him a feeling of security, but also allowing him to lead at the same time.
"We just come together as a veteran corps," Kenny Shaw said. "We always had EJ here to calm us down, but now we're all aware that we have to be there for Jameis if he needs us. But it's weird, though, because it seems like he's always the one calming everyone else down. He loves playing football and loves being a leader."
Preparation is also key when talking about Winston's demeanor on the field. And if you're a Florida State fan, you can thank Jimbo Fisher for that.
"We go through these kind of things - adversity and everything - in practice," Kelvin Benjamin said. "Coach Fisher puts us in all kinds of situations to make sure we can bounce back from mistakes that back us up against a wall. Jameis never seems fazed. Once that play is done, he forgets about it like it never happened and just wants to come right back and fix that mistake. That's huge."
But maybe the most impressive intangible that Jameis Winston possesses is his humility. This kid has dealt with tons hype through his senior year at Hueytown High School and the Elite 11 competition, but he's never had more of a spotlight on his life than he does right now. The national media has caught on and it didn't take long. Talks of a Heisman hopeful - 'Famous Jameis' is just one of the many nicknames that surround the aura of Jameis Winston. But he continues to be grounded - he just wants to play football. And early in the second quarter, that's just what he did. Slipping a seemingly inevitable sack and rolling out of the pocket to somehow find an open Kelvin Benjamin streaking across the front of the end zone for a touchdown, Winston showed the kind of composure the redshirt freshman possesses. But after the game, his humility was at the forefront. When asked about Rashad Greene dropping the touchdown in the first quarter, Winston quickly responded, "what about me overthrowing Nick in the corner of the end zone?"
This is exactly the kind of leader Jameis Winston is.
"Everything was going our way today," Winston said as he smiled. "I was making bad decisions. I don't know if it was a lack of focus, but I was just making bad decision - my team was playing great. I came out there and underestimated those guys and that was my fault, I was greedy. I just had to calm down. Coach Fisher just told me to lock in, get back to my mechanics and start ballin'. All of this rah-rah about drops passes and whatever, that's short-term memory. I just have to settle down, trust my teammates, make the right decisions and we'll be fine."