- David M. Hale, ESPN Staff Writer
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Throughout the summer, Nole Nation will be counting down the 40 players we're projecting to make the biggest impact on the Seminoles' 2013 season, taking into consideration everything from experience to potential to their spot on the current depth chart.
Next up: No. 3 Jameis Winston
What he's done: The list of accomplishments for Winston thus far are impressive. He's garnered immense attention as a high school quarterback. He's been the top-recruited quarterback in the country. He's garnered a massive cult following after video surfaced of him throwing footballs over fraternity houses. He's been praised as perhaps FSU's top cheerleader throughout the 2012 season -- home and away. He's generated buzz from teammates for his impressive practice performances. He's battled two more veteran quarterbacks throughout spring practice and come out on top. He's starred in this year's spring game, throwing a touchdown past two-time All-ACC defender Lamarcus Joyner on his first throw. He's touched 100 mph on the radar gun in baseball games as one of FSU's top relief aces. In fact, the only thing Winston hasn't done so far is actually throw a pass in a college game.
Where he's at: Jimbo Fisher's final evaluation is the only one that matters, and he has yet to officially name Winston his starter, but for all intents and purposes, that seems a done deal. Winston was the clear winner during spring practice, and his biggest competition, junior Clint Trickett, transferred to West Virginia soon after practice concluded. Jacob Coker will still push Winston for the job -- a competition that actually figures to be better than what Coker mustered this spring with an injured foot -- but at this point, it would take a major upset for anyone other than Winston to be taking the first snaps of the season. The bigger question for most fans at this point is what Winston will do with those snaps, and the expectations are immense. While Fisher has cautioned restraint, more than a few fans are already dreaming of Heisman trophies and national titles.
What's to come: Winston doesn't seem particularly concerned about the high bar of expectations. Heck, he's put them on himself. He's already balanced football and baseball and compared his longterm ambitions to that of Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson. But whether he's ready to step in and star as a freshman remains to be seen. Just last year, a redshirt freshman QB won the Heisman, and Johnny Manziel might be the comparison Winston will hear the most. But the more appropriate measure might be that of EJ Manuel, who had an strong season in 2012 but was marked by inconsistency along the way. Winston figures to hit a few bumps in the road, too, as he learns on the job, but his confidence and talent are virtually unmatched, and he's got a strong supporting cast around him. If he can approach Manuel's production from last year, it will have been a successful debut. If he can exceed them, Florida State just might end up being a bigger contender for a conference and national championship than many are currently projecting.
2dJeremy Crabtree and Brandon Chatmon