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Thursday, Oct 23, 2014
Colleges

Another title, not Heisman, is goal for FSU's Winston


Published:   |   Updated: August 27, 2014 at 08:10 AM

— Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has the opportunity to accomplish what only one other player has achieved — win the Heisman Trophy twice.

Twenty-three underclassmen have won the award, but Ohio State running back Archie Griffin was the only one to pull off the feat.

Griffin is shocked he remains the lone double winner since the award's inception in 1935. Griffin, the Heisman trophy winner in 1974 and 1975, believes it is more difficult to win the award in back-to-back years than it was 40 years ago.

For him, the off-the-field distractions were more stressful than any defense.

“I'll never forget that I was trying to do everything for everybody and (coach) Woody (Hayes) called me into his office,” Griffin said. “He told me, 'You know what? It's going to make you soft. You can't do everything for everybody.' ”

But unlike Griffin, who admitted it was a goal, Winston said he hasn't even thought about a second Heisman and is more concerned with a second national championship.

“I'm going to be great, even better than I was last year,” Winston said. “I'm going to continue to be myself.”

Coach Jimbo Fisher has spoken with Winston about the award, but not about winning another.

“I do (talk to him) from the point of the responsibility that goes with it with your character and the things you do,” Fisher said. “Not about winning another one. If he just goes and plays well, that will take care of itself. ...You can't worry about that.”

There are plenty who will.

The demands and expectations are higher than when Griffin made history. Winston is the leading candidate heading into the season with the defending national champion Seminoles, who begin the year ranked No. 1.

The Seminoles and Winston have tried to manage his off-the-field commitments.

Winston made few public appearances during the offseason. He was the closer on the baseball team, finishing with a team-best 1.08 ERA, and accepted a handful of football awards. Winston was honored in his hometown of Bessemer, Alabama, and his Hueytown High School jersey was retired. There was also a trip to the ESPYs.

The Florida State signal-caller has learned to be more guarded, but still loves having “all eyes on me.”

Winston, however, is no stranger to unwanted attention.

During FSU's national championship run, Winston was investigated for sexual assault, but was not charged by the attorney general. In April, he was suspended for three baseball games and completed 20 hours of community service after admitting he stole $32 worth of crab legs from a local grocery store.

The quarterback will also have a few on-field challenges.

The Seminoles lost two of their top three receivers and their top two running backs to the NFL. Those four accounted for 52.6 percent of the offense and 44 touchdowns.

Nonetheless, because of Winston, the Seminoles will be one of the teams to beat.

Despite his talent, Winston has continued to downplay questions about the NFL. He insists that playing college baseball remains a priority. It would be a challenge to prepare for the 2015 NFL draft while playing for Florida State's baseball team.

There was an atmosphere of curiosity around Winston last season after being the No. 1 high school quarterback in the nation. The hype is different now because of his dominance on the field and the criticism away from it.

“I don't have time to focus on bad things,” Winston said. “I'm always looking forward, keeping a smile on my face and focusing on good things.”

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