NEW ORLEANS -- Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has one more award to add to his collection.
Winston was announced Wednesday as the winner of the Manning Award, given annually to the nation's top quarterback. The award comes two days after Winston led Florida State to a 34-31 victory over Auburn in the BCS championship game.
"It means a lot just to have Manning next to my name, to have my name next to Manning, with the accolades that Peyton, Eli and Mr. (Archie) Manning have had in college and professional football," Winston said. "That makes me so happy. It really makes my day for me to be able to get announced as the winner of this award."
The Manning Award is the only annual quarterback award that takes a player's bowl performance into consideration. That distinguishes it from the Davey O'Brien Award, another honor given annually to the nation's top college quarterback. Winston, the Heisman Trophy winner, also was named the recipient of the Davey O'Brien Award last month.
At a teleconference announcing Winston as the winner, College Football Hall of Famer Archie Manning called Winston "the total package."
"He's got great command out there," Manning said. "He kind of scans the field. He's certainly capable of tucking it and running, but he doesn't do it too quick. He goes through his options. I just thought he showed so much in really his first year in big-time football there. This game, especially the quarterback position, it's about repetition and experience. And he led the team like he did in his first year as a starting quarterback, and rallied them (to) winning all their games and a national championship just speaks highly for him."
1. Can Florida State repeat?
This is one of the biggest story lines to watch in 2014, along with the first College Football Playoff. Colleague Ted Miller takes a deeper dive into the Noles, whom we can finally declare as "back" on the college football landscape:
The Seminoles suffered through an uncomfortable separation from (Bobby) Bowden, who built the program from the ground up, and there were some fits and starts in Jimbo Fisher's first three seasons, but this team seems well-equipped for another long run of national contention, starting with outstanding recruiting in Florida, a hotbed of prep talent.2. Who will be the stars of the college football season?
In short, the Seminoles probably won't wait 14 years to win another title. And it was great to see Bowden serving as the Seminoles' honorary captain Monday night. Winning heals wounds.
The ACC has a few sleepers on this list, too: Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller and North Carolina returner Ryan Switzer.
3. Time for 10 bold predictions.
Colleague Mark Schlabach takes a crack at being Nostradamus, and predicts Winston will win another Heisman:
Winston was so good this past season, completing 66.9 percent of his passes for more than 4,000 yards with 40 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, that it's easy to forget it was his first season as a starter. He'll be even better as a sophomore, even if juniors like Kelvin Benjamin and Nick O'Leary enter the NFL draft.
He also gives a nod to the ongoing war of words between Steve Spurrier and Dabo Swinney. Could their annual game be moved to a parking lot? Intrigue!
First on the docket for FSU will be identifying which star players will be returning for next season. Running back James Wilder Jr. is entering the draft, according to a source, and more decisions will trickle in before the Jan. 15 deadline. Here are our best guesses at what’s to come — and who might step in for departing underclassmen.
Why he’d leave: Entering the season, Jernigan was Florida State’s top-rated underclassman by most draft experts, and that standing never changed. Jernigan was dominant all season, and his impact was never more noticeable than in the national title game. When he was on the field, Auburn found no running room between the tackles. When he was out of the game, the Tigers moved the ball with ease on the ground.
Next up: Nile Lawrence-Stample took a big step forward this season, gaining valuable playing time in the defensive line rotation. He started six games and finished with 15 tackles. Florida State has five current defensive tackle commitments, so it’s certainly possible one of the incoming freshmen could make a big impact early — as Jernigan did in 2011 — but Lawrence-Stample is the safest bet to step in full time.
WR Kelvin Benjamin (redshirt sophomore)
Why he’d leave: Benjamin was projected as a star from the moment he arrived on campus, but it took him a while to get acclimated. He enjoyed a breakthrough 2013 season, finishing with 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns, including the game-winner in the VIZIO BCS National Championship. Some of his game could still use some refinement — as evidenced by two big drops vs. Auburn — but his physical skills already peg him as a likely first-rounder.
Next up: Kermit Whitfield certainly projects as Florida State’s next big-play receiver after an electric season as a freshman, but he fits more in the slot. Replacing Benjamin’s size and physicality isn’t an easy task, but 6-4 freshman Isaiah Jones figures to have the best chance. He saw limited playing time this year, catching two balls for 31 yards.
RB Devonta Freeman (junior)
Next up: Karlos Williams showed plenty of promise this season after moving from safety in Week 2, finishing with 748 rushing yards in reserve duty. He’s largely a straight-ahead runner, but his combination of size and speed makes him a weapon. FSU will still need to develop depth, likely with Mario Pender or Ryan Green, but could get a boost from four-star commit Dalvin Cook.
LT Cameron Erving (redshirt junior)
Why he’d leave: Erving has hovered near the top of the offensive tackle draft boards since the end of 2012, and in his second season since moving from the defensive line, he showed significant progress. Still, it’s a deep draft at the position, and there were moments — including against Auburn’s impressive defensive front Monday — when he showed some flaws.
Next up: Florida State brought in two potentially strong replacements last year in Ira Denson and Wilson Bell. Injuries hampered the progress for both during the season, however, which makes Erving’s decision potentially crucial for the stability of the line going into 2014.
G Tre Jackson and G Josue Matias (juniors)
Why they’d leave: Matias and Jackson might be among the top underclassmen at the position, but both could benefit from another year working with line coach Rick Trickett.
Next up: Florida State has struggled to recruit on the line the past few years, which makes depth — particularly on the interior — a significant concern. The Seminoles have a solid class coming in for 2014, but the loss of more than one of their underclassmen on the line would be a serious concern.
TE Nick O’Leary (junior)
Why he’d leave: O’Leary made huge strides this season, developing into one of Jameis Winston’s favorite targets and a legitimate red-zone threat. He’s an adept route-runner, a sure-handed receiver and his blocking game has developed nicely. But with Florida State's receiving corps in transition, O’Leary could be in a position to post huge numbers in 2014 if he sticks around.
Next up: Kevin Haplea returns from a knee injury next year, but he’s more of a blocking tight end than a true replacement.
WR Rashad Greene (Jr./WR)
Why he’d leave: What more can Greene accomplish at Florida State? He’s been the team’s most reliable receiver for three consecutive seasons. He became the Seminoles’ first 1,000-yard receiver since Anquan Boldin this year. He’s quick, a great route-runner, and he has good hands. He does everything well, and his quarterbacks have taken notice. The problem for Greene is that he lacks the obvious physical skills that make scouts drool, so his draft value might not reflect his on-field contributions.
Next up: It would be a surprise if Greene left, but it would also be a huge blow to Florida State’s offense. Winston was a star this season in part because of an exceptional group of receivers, but the group will get a major makeover in 2014. The Seminoles need Greene to help ease the transition.
- The Tallahassee Democrat digs into Florida State’s game-winning drive in the BCS championship.
- Jameis Winston was booted from a practice leading up to the title game, writes the Orlando Sentinel.
- Florida State’s national championship was the crown jewel in a breakthrough season for the ACC, writes Joe Giglio of the Charlotte Observer.
- Louisville’s coaching search could be drawing to a close, writes the Courier-Journal.
- BCS bowl win or another state championship? Better schedule or biggest win? The Clemson-South Carolina debate rages on, writes The State.
- Georgia Tech added one of the state’s top running backs — at long last, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- The jump to the ACC added some serious value to Syracuse’s athletics program, writes The Post-Standard. Though it’s interesting that in the study cited, no ACC team ranks higher than No. 22 overall, and the conference has just two programs in the top 30.
- It’s still a waiting game on Denzel Perryman and Anthony Chickillo at Miami after both players received their NFL advisory board projections, writes the Miami Herald.
- Could BC defensive coordinator Don Brown be leaving for UMass? BC Interruption considers the possibility.
- The Roanoke Times laments another flubbed opportunity at Virginia after Anthony Poindexter bolted for a job at UConn.
- North Carolina C Russell Bodine
- Clemson DB Bashaud Breeland
- Clemson WR Martavis Bryant
- North Carolina TE Eric Ebron
- Syracuse RB Jerome Smith
- Clemson WR Sammy Watkins
Also, a source told ESPN's Joe Schad that Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. will enter for the draft. Of these players who have already declared, only Watkins and Ebron are listed on the latest Mel Kiper Big Board. Watkins and Ebron are near locks to go early in the draft. But the prospects are less certain for the others who have already declared.
Still waiting on
- Clemson DE Vic Beasley
- Miami DE Anthony Chickillo
- Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin
- Florida State OT Cameron Erving
- Florida State RB Devonta Freeman
- Florida State WR Rashad Greene
- Florida State DT Tim Jernigan
- Virginia Tech DT Luther Maddy
- Miami LB Denzel Perryman
Jernigan, Benjamin and Beasley are all listed on the Kiper Big Board. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said Tuesday at his post-championship news conference he expects only a few players to leave early for the draft.
Also of note, Virginia Tech safety Kyshoen Jarrett announced on Twitter that he will return to school for his senior season.
DE Harold Landry (Fayetteville, N.C./Pine Forest)
6-foot-3, 230 pounds
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Victory should give Seminoles momentum
How will Florida State’s national title help on the recruiting trail? After the smoke cleared from Monday night’s game, I asked one of the FSU assistants for his thoughts on the topic. His response wasn’t surprising. “We had heard from a few kids this year that FSU was always over ranked and never won anything,” said the assistant, who asked not to be named. “But you can take that off the board now. It’s gone. We’ve already started to get calls from a lot of our top remaining targets and almost all of our commits. They are fired up about the national title. We can’t wait to get back on the road after the dead period and talk to them face to face about how it’s just a first step in what will be a big run for Florida State.” Florida State sits at No. 4 in the ESPN Class Rankings but with a few key recruits still looking hard at the Noles they could easily climb even higher.
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2. Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher warned about how the College Football Playoff will lengthen the season to 15 games. “These guys don't get to go play in an NFL season,” Fisher said. “They don't get to go rehab all day. They got school. They got study halls. They got things to do. Those bodies at that age aren't developed like a man is. And they say, ‘Well, the lower divisions do it.’ Well, I'm going to tell you something. Just like the NFL is a much more physical game than Division I football, Division I football is significantly different than I-AA, Division II and Division III.”
3. The video of Fisher “sprinting” down the sideline yelling “Go! Go! Go!” as Kermit Whitfield returned a kickoff 100 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown should be included in any Florida State highlight reel of its victory Monday night in the VIZIO BCS National Championship. Fisher said he came out of that fine but pulled a hamstring when Auburn defensive back Ryan White horse-collared Rashad Greene at the Auburn 23-yard-line on the final scoring drive. “It wasn't called, badly, and I was running down yelling at the referee,” Fisher said. “I did pull a hamstring. I was hopping on that one. I was running on the other one.”
FSU Recruiting Builds On BCS Title Win
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