Florida State Seminoles: Clint Trickett

A little over a year ago, Florida State went into spring practice with four quarterbacks competing to win the starting job.

Fast forward to today, and three of those players are in line to be starters -- further proof that Jimbo Fisher knows how to pick and develop his quarterbacks.

[+] EnlargeJimbo Fisher and Jameis Winston
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesJameis Winston could be the fourth quarterback under the guidance of Jimbo Fisher to be picked in the first round of the NFL draft.
While Jameis Winston emerged as the star of the group, it is pretty clear now that Fisher was not exaggerating when he said he had four very talented guys competing to win the starting job in April 2013. Jacob Coker and Clint Trickett may not have done enough to beat out Winston, but that should reflect more on the rare skill-set Winston possesses and less on Coker and Trickett themselves.

Especially when you consider what has happened over the past 16 months.

Trickett transferred out of Florida State following spring practice and landed at West Virginia, starting seven games last season. Dana Holgorsen announced Tuesday that Trickett is his starter heading into the season.

And who do the Mountaineers play to open 2014? None other than Alabama, where Jacob Coker recently transferred and is immediately eligible to play. Though Coker has yet to participate in a practice at Alabama, many believe he has the inside track to win the starting job.

During a news conference previewing the BCS National Championship, Florida State co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders reflected on the competition both in the spring and fall.

"People look back on it and they don't believe us, but it was a very, very competitive situation," Sanders said. "Coker is a good football player and did a tremendous job through spring practice and through fall camp. It was one of those things we thought we were going to make a decision and then it gets put off a day, put off a day and I remember sitting in there in the staff meeting and kinda going around the table and hearing all the opinions. I promise you, it was not a unanimous thing. Sometimes you make a decision and you go with it, and it's hard to say we made the wrong one at this point but if we had chosen Coker we wouldn't be sitting here and feeling like we made the wrong decision there, too."

Fisher had a similar situation when he was offensive coordinator at LSU. Back in 1999 and 2000, Josh Booty, Craig Nall and Rohan Davey all were on the roster and battling for the starting job. All three eventually were drafted.

So when you include his seven years at LSU, Fisher has had eight quarterbacks drafted -- three in the first round. Winston is sure to be next in line whenever he decides to enter the NFL draft.

When that time comes, it is nearly guaranteed the Seminoles will have a player talented enough to step right in and start.

Who knows? There could even be two or three players talented enough to start.

Here is a look at where quarterbacks Fisher coached were drafted:

at LSU
  • Josh Booty, sixth round, 2001
  • Rohan Davey, fourth round, 2002
  • Craig Nall, fifth round, 2002
  • Matt Mauck, seventh round, 2004
  • JaMarcus Russell, first overall, 2007
  • Matt Flynn, seventh round, 2008
at Florida State
  • Christian Ponder, first round, 2011
  • EJ Manuel, first round, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The rumors have swirled for months, and on Wednesday, Florida State made it official: Quarterback Jacob Coker is leaving.

The redshirt sophomore pushed Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston for the starting job until the final week of fall camp, but he spent all of 2013 as a backup before injuring his knee and missing the final five games of the season.

Coker was a three-star recruit out of high school, but his combination of athleticism and a strong arm have already generated buzz about his pro potential. What was missing was playing time. He figures to find that elsewhere, with numerous reports suggesting Alabama as his most likely destination.

For Florida State, Coker’s decision doesn’t really change much on the depth chart, but it does put a bigger spotlight on Winston’s decision to continue his baseball career this spring.

Winston opens practice with Florida State’s baseball team Friday, and he’s expected to compete for a job as the team’s closer. He was solid in a relief role last year -- 17 appearances with a 3.00 ERA and 21 strikeouts -- but that was before he had a national championship and a Heisman Trophy under his belt.

A potential injury on the baseball field certainly makes Winston’s decision risky, and with Coker out of the picture, there’s not a substantial safety net for the Seminoles football team.

FSU will open spring practice with Sean Maguire second on the depth chart. A redshirt freshman in 2013, Maguire appeared in seven games, completing 13 of 21 passes for 116 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

At the moment, there are no other scholarship quarterbacks with playing experience on the roster, though Class of 2014 QBs J.J. Cosentino (Pittsburgh/Central Catholic) and Treon Harris (Miami/Booker T. Washington) are both committed to FSU and John Franklin III worked on the scout team for the Seminoles in 2013. Franklin's future at quarterback, however, has been a topic of debate since his recruitment.

If all goes smoothly and Winston stays healthy, however, it’s a moot point. But Coker is the second quarterback to transfer from Florida State in less than a year -- Clint Trickett is now at West Virginia -- meaning a position once loaded with depth is now a bit more precarious moving forward.
1. Michigan fans couldn’t get Rich Rodriguez out of town fast enough. But it’s worth noting that Brady Hoke’s best offensive players are fifth-year seniors recruited by Rodriguez. That includes Saturday’s record-setters, quarterback Devin Gardner (503 passing yards, 584 yards of total offense) and receiver Jeremy Gallon (369 receiving yards), as well as Fitzgerald Toussaint (four rushing scores Saturday) and starting tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield. Then again, offense wasn’t RichRod’s problem at Michigan.

2. There’s the speculation at the top of the BCS standings, where No. 2 Florida State and No. 3 Oregon may leapfrog one another the next three weeks as their schedules ebb and flow. Then there’s the battle at the other end, where No. 17 Fresno State and No. 18 Northern Illinois are jockeying with one another and both trying to stay in front of No. 20 Louisville and No. 23 UCF from the AAC. If one of the former finishes ahead of one of the latter, that will guarantee a BCS bid. The BCS ratings always provide fodder.

3. Senior quarterback Clint Trickett left Florida State after spring ball when he realized that he wouldn’t beat out redshirt freshman Jameis Winston. On Saturday, Winston threw for 444 yards at Clemson and became a Heisman frontrunner. Trickett started at West Virginia and threw for 254 yards and a touchdown against Texas Tech. But the Red Raiders outscored the Mountaineers 21-0 in the last 20 minutes to win, 37-27. Over the last five possessions, Trickett completed 6 of 11 passes for 19 yards. The offense made one first down.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The last Florida State quarterback to win a game at Clemson was a freshman.

It happened in 2001, and Chris Rix didn't realize he was supposed to be intimidated. He was from California, and the chaos of Death Valley was completely foreign to him. Ignorance, it turned out, was a luxury.

When Rix returned two seasons later, the noise and the energy and the crowd made for an overwhelming obstacle. James Robert Kennedy, the inspiration for the movie "Radio," led the Tigers down the hill and onto the field. The game hadn't begun, and Rix knew Florida State was in trouble.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsJameis Winston will get his first taste of the Death Valley experience on Saturday night.
"We had just seen the movie," Rix said. "And I'm like, 'Oh, shoot.' "

The No. 3-ranked Seminoles, fresh off a 37-0 thumping of Notre Dame, were stunned by Clemson, beginning a run of five straight losses in Death Valley -- a streak that looms over them in Saturday's matchup like a black cloud.

In four of the five losses during this streak, Florida State was the higher-ranked team when it arrived in Clemson. The players have changed -- from the veteran Rix in 2003 to Clint Trickett making his first start in relief of an injured EJ Manuel in 2011 -- and the results have been the same. There have been close losses (a 35-30 final in 2011) and ugly ones (35-14 in 2005, part of a three-game overall losing streak to end the regular season).

For all of its success under coach Jimbo Fisher, all of the rebuilding the program has done in the past four seasons, this remains a towering obstacle, and the Seminoles are making it a point of emphasis this week.

"Twelve years? That's crazy," senior linebacker Telvin Smith said. "I know I haven't won there, and that's a goal of mine. That's what this team is about -- overcoming obstacles and being defiant."

And yet, Death Valley has a history of swallowing up the defiant and overwhelming the unprepared.

Few ACC venues provide the same unwaveringly intimidating atmosphere, from the crazed crowd to the deafening noise to the frenetic entrance Clemson's players make, charging down the hill and onto the field, ready for battle.

"It's a crazy atmosphere, especially at the beginning of the game," Smith said. "If you're not a strong-minded person, you can definitely get intimidated in there."

Fisher said the atmosphere at Clemson compares favorably to the most intense SEC stadiums, and he said he'll wear two sets of headphones just to tune out the crowd noise and ignore the claustrophobic confines. James Wilder Jr. said tailbacks can't hear a quarterback standing just a few feet away. Former FSU coach Bobby Bowden said Clemson and LSU were easily the loudest stadiums in which he ever coached. It's an environment tailback Karlos Williams said can't be replicated in practice, though he said Fisher tries to rattle his players by pumping in "terrible" music over loudspeakers during the week.

Still, as Fisher said, it's not the atmosphere that has stymied Florida State for the past 12 years -- it's the players on the field.

"Does the atmosphere make the players, or do the players make the stadium?" Fisher said. "First off, they have good players. Secondly, they're coached extremely well. And then third, to have a great environment of 80,000 folks that love football and are very passionate, I think all three of those things make it very tough to win in Death Valley."

When Florida State takes the field this season, again there will be a freshman at quarterback, and Jameis Winston insists he's not the type to be overwhelmed by his surroundings. Instead, he said, he's eager for the opportunity.

Many of Winston's teammates know exactly what to expect, however, and the memories of that 2011 loss remain fresh in their minds.

"We left with a nasty taste in our mouths last time," left tackle Cameron Erving said. "We were there, knowing we should've won that game. We're going up there now, knowing it's going to be a loud, hostile environment. It's setting up for a great game."

Looking back on that win in 2001, Rix said his naiveté was a weapon on the field but admitted he never would have imagined that 12 years later, Florida State would still be looking for its next win in Death Valley.

When Clemson and Florida State take the field Saturday, however, the magnitude of the game and the environment won't be lost on anyone. With 12 years of frustration behind them, and a national championship potentially on the horizon, the Seminoles know what's at stake.

"I'm ready," safety Terrence Brooks said. "They know the expectations for this game. It's going to be a good one, and I can't wait."
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- An answer is coming eventually, but Jimbo Fisher is letting the drama build for at least another day or two. Of course, given the seemingly endless wait for an official announcement on Florida State's starting quarterback, perhaps nothing should feel certain.

Fisher hinted earlier this week that he'd wait until after Wednesday's final preseason scrimmage before tabbing his starter, and during a radio appearance, he suggested an answer would be provided by week's end. But as he rocked back in his desk chair in his office following Wednesday's work, he casually brushed off yet another round of inquiries.

"We'll look and we'll make a decision, but we have two very good quarterbacks," Fisher said. "I won't put a timetable, but it could happen [before next week]."

[+] EnlargeJimbo Fisher
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesJimbo Fisher is feeling positive about both his options at quarterback.
Fisher said evaluation of the tape of Wednesday's scrimmage would factor in, but the environment didn't figure to be the best test for Jameis Winston or Jacob Coker. All of the running backs were in non-contact jerseys, and top receiver Rashad Greene was held out of the scrimmage because of a finger injury. He's expected to return to practice by early next week.

Even without the benefit of the film, though, Fisher said both quarterbacks showed signs of progress Wednesday. But he again failed to single one out at the expense of the other.

"From the sidelines, I thought both guys handled the huddle well, made plays, got the ball down the field vertically and dumped it off," Fisher said. "They handled the blitz. I was very pleased with how they played in this scrimmage."

It's a synopsis tailback Devonta Freeman confirmed, noting that both quarterbacks were able to command the huddle, communicate plays, read blitzes and manage the clock effectively.

Those reports are encouraging for Florida State, but as the season opener against Pittsburgh draws near, the time for progress is coming to an end and the time for preparations has begun. The Seminoles will start installing game plans for the opener Friday, and even Fisher admits a favorite should emerge by then.

"The first guy will get more [reps], no doubt," Fisher said, carefully avoiding identifying that first guy. "But we'll still try to keep two guys ready. It'll probably be a 60-40 difference."

It's certainly possible that Fisher's protracted public ambivalence on the quarterbacks has been in a quest to ensure he has two strong options even after one is officially named the starter.

Junior Clint Trickett transferred to West Virginia following spring practice, leaving Coker as the only quarterback on the FSU roster to have thrown a pass in a game -- and he's tossed just five in his career. So Fisher has worked to at least keep the image that both Coker and Winston have an equal shot at the job.

"No matter what you say, you've got to have two guys ready to play," Fisher said. "And I think both guys have shown they can go in and play."

Of course, if Fisher has offered equal time to both quarterbacks, the fan base has long since made up its mind.

Winston's big spring game and sterling pedigree as a top recruit have made him the runaway favorite outside the locker room, and while Fisher said he won't take that into account when making a final decision on the starter, the immense hype has the potential to cause problems.

"We'll try to keep them grounded and talk them through that situation," Fisher said. "They're fighting through it now a little bit. It could be [a distraction] if we allow it to be."

For now, though, Fisher is continuing to tout the company line, regardless of what's been decided behind closed doors or in the court of public opinion. He said he'll break down film of the scrimmage, and he'll ask for input from his assistant coaches before making a final ruling. He'll also spend time discussing the verdict with both quarterbacks.

And eventually, mercifully, the public will find out an answer, too.
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

Position/Class: QB/RFr.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Joel Auerbach/Getty ImagesAfter months of hype, Florida State's Jameis Winston is set for his Monday night debut at Pittsburgh.
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.
Throughout the summer, NoleNation 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. 37 Jacob Coker
Position/class: Quarterback/redshirt sophomore

[+] EnlargeJacob Coker
AP Photo/Don Juan MooreJacob Coker is the likely second-string quarterback in 2013.
What he's done: For two years, Coker has bided his time on the sidelines, backing up starter EJ Manuel. As a redshirt freshman in 2012, the strong-armed Coker saw his first playing time, but it was extremely limited. He threw five passes, all in FSU's first three games. He completed three, one for a touchdown against Savannah State. Coker was part of a four-man competition for the starting quarterback job this spring, but he was hampered by a broken bone in his foot.

Where he's at: Everyone except Jimbo Fisher seems to have tabbed Jameis Winston as Florida State's starter, which again leaves Coker destined for a job on the bench. Fisher insists the competition remains open, but Winston clearly outplayed Coker this spring and it likely would take a miracle (or an injury) for Coker to win the job in time for the season opener. Still, Coker figures to be completely past the foot injury when fall camp begins, and a little healthy competition can only make both quarterbacks better.

What's to come: Coker's future seemed like the biggest question of the spring once Winston took hold of the top spot on the depth chart, but when Clint Trickett transferred to West Virginia, the picture cleared a bit. Winston is immensely talented, but he likes to run and his arm already has some mileage thanks to a season on the baseball diamond. Add a long history of injuries to the starting quarterbacks at Florida State, and it wouldn't be a surprise if Coker is pressed into action. If he gets on the field, he's more than capable of impressing. In truth, however, Coker's best hope for landing the big job is for Winston to be so successful that he leaves for the NFL after 2014.
AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has no problem with quarterback Jameis Winston continuing to play both football and baseball, even now that it appears the highly touted redshirt freshman has the inside track to win the starting job.

Though Fisher maintains the quarterback competition remains open, Winston seemingly emerged as the front-runner to win the job following a spectacular spring game and the eventual transfer of veteran Clint Trickett.

"I’m not going to limit what he does," Fisher said Tuesday during ACC spring meetings. "If that’s something he helps that team with -- he loves football, he loves baseball and we’ll continue to monitor and do the same things we do."

He later added, "You don’t put parameters on people just because somebody else didn’t do it. Charlie [Ward] did it, Deion [Sanders] did it, Sammie Smith did it. Florida State’s had quite a number of them. And [Jameis] continues to do it very well."

Winston juggled both sports throughout spring practice with no problems. He has appeared in 31 baseball games with 26 starts and is batting .293. He also has made 14 appearances as a relief pitcher with a 1.80 ERA.

Fisher has never had a quarterback play two sports. In fact, two-sport athletes are becoming increasingly rare as players become more specialized in one sport.

But Fisher says, "I think the relationship’s gone very well. Testing the waters in spring I thought he handled it extremely well and did very well with it. It goes back to the individual. Is he capable of handling it? And he’s handled it with ease. He’s excelled in both things that he’s done."

A few more notes from Fisher:
  • Fisher didn't want to publicly comment on signee Matthew Thomas, who made headlines last week when he said he wanted out of his letter of intent. Athletic director Randy Spetman told The Tallahassee Democrat the school wouldn't release Thomas. Coaches continue to have discussions with his mom to see whether they can get Thomas to come up to Tallahassee. "We're working behind the scenes and I'm not going to comment publicly," Fisher said.
  • Fisher also seemed a little surprised that receiver Marvin Bracy decided to quit football to focus on track. "We had a great conversation," Fisher said. "Just he was more undecided about what he wanted to do. I just wanted him to make sure if you’re going to go pro track, is it what’s best for you? Are you going to maximize the money you can make or the opportunity for your life or what’s your education down the road, what’s the big picture? I hope he’s done that."
2012 record: 12-2
2012 conference record: 7-1
Returning starters: Offense 6, Defense 5, Kicker/Punter 1

Top returners

WR Rashad Greene, LT Cameron Erving, C Bryan Stork, LB Christian Jones, LB Telvin Smith, DB Lamarcus Joyner, DT Timmy Jernigan

Key losses

QB EJ Manuel, RT Menelik Watson, RB Chris Thompson, DE Bjoern Werner, DE Cornellius Carradine, CB Xavier Rhodes, K Dustin Hopkins

2012 statistical leaders (*returning)

Rushing: Chris Thompson (687 yards)
Passing: EJ Manuel (3,392 yards)
Receiving: Rashad Greene* (741 yards)
Tackles: Christian Jones* (95)
Sacks: Bjoern Werner (13)
Interceptions: Xavier Rhodes, Tyler Hunter* (3)

Spring answers:

1. Changes on D: New coordinator Jeremy Pruitt brought a slew of new schemes with him from Alabama, meaning the FSU defense won't look all that much like the one that finished second in the nation in 2012. With the loss of five former starters from the defensive line, that's probably a good thing. Pruitt's scheme will be more aggressive and bring a lot more blitzes, allowing FSU to get pressure from other areas.

2. Beating Hart: When right tackle Menelik Watson made the somewhat surprising decision to leave FSU after just a year to enter the NFL draft, all eyes turned to junior Bobby Hart, whose turbulent career with the Seminoles was already well documented. Hart started as a 17-year-old freshman in 2011, but problems with his work ethic derailed his sophomore season and he found himself on the bench. He appeared to work his way back into line coach Rick Trickett's good graces by the end of the spring, however, and he'll be crucial to maintaining the continuity of the line without Watson.

3. Famous Jameis: Jimbo Fisher still isn't calling the contest over, but it certainly looks like redshirt freshman Jameis Winston is in the driver's seat to take over for Manuel as FSU's new starting quarterback. Winston shined throughout the spring and delivered a monster performance in the Seminoles' Garnet and Gold game, completing 13 of 15 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns. A week later, junior QB Clint Trickett announced he was transferring.

Fall questions:

1. Winston, Part II: Yes, the spring was impressive for Winston, but as Fisher was quick to point out, he'll need to pick up right where he left off in the fall if FSU is going to make a smooth transition at a position that's been remarkably stable for the past five years. Jacob Coker remains in competition -- and he should be fully healed after breaking a bone in his foot that limited this spring -- but the loss of Trickett puts a lot of pressure on Winston to step up, particularly with a daunting road contest at new ACC member Pittsburgh looming in the season opener.

2. New-look secondary: Lamarcus Joyner appeared to make a relatively smooth transition from safety to corner, but FSU didn't get much of a look at what will constitute the secondary in 2013. Key players such as Tyler Hunter, Nick Waisome and Ronald Darby were all hurt, while promising freshman Jalen Ramsey had yet to arrive. The group will finally all work together during fall camp.

3. Just for kicks: Redshirt freshman Roberto Aguayo showed off his powerful leg during FSU's spring game, connecting on three long field goals, including a 58-yarder to close out the game. Still, replacing the NCAA's all-time leading scorer among kickers won't be an easy task. Dustin Hopkins was as reliable as it gets for FSU, and Aguayo still needs to show he can handle the pressure of making a big kick with the game on the line.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Clint Trickett's decision to transfer from Florida State might have narrowed the playing field in the Seminoles' quarterback competition, but Jimbo Fisher still isn't making anything official when it comes to naming a starter.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsAll signs point toward Jameis Winston starting on Saturdays this fall.
The clear implication from Trickett's departure is that redshirt freshman Jameis Winston is in command for the job, but Fisher said Thursday he plans to keep it an open competition into fall camp.

"They have to go into fall camp and still perform," Fisher said. "Spring is one thing, and you got an indication of what we're capable of and where we're going, but we have to continue to grow and continue those performances with consistency going into fall camp and throughout summer and all through the season. There's always competition."

Fisher might be insistent on a quiet public approach to the job, but all signs point to Winston being in the driver's seat to take over for EJ Manuel as the Seminoles' starter in 2013.

Trickett entered spring atop the depth chart, but Winston's reps with the first-team offense grew over the course of spring practice, and his spring game performance -- 12-of-15 passing for 205 yards and two touchdowns -- was clearly enough to push Trickett out the door.

While Fisher didn't discuss an updated depth chart publicly, he said following the spring game that the quarterbacks would have a clear understanding of where they stood.

"You're honest about what's going on, our response," Fisher said. "If you're honest every day with them, that's the key. The key is to be open and honest with them -- and they know. They know what you're looking for. In the end, they'll know."

After evaluating the film, Fisher's impressions of Winston certainly underscore why Trickett decided to leave. While Winston wasn't perfect, Fisher raved about how quickly he picked up the offense.

"He was very good, made good decisions with the ball, as accurate, as very calm under pressure," Fisher said. "Handled the poise, understood the situations. He had a couple mistakes in there, even on some of the good plays, the process in which he went about it would've been better. But he was very productive, seized the moment, and I thought he took advantage of things, which you want guys to do. That's what you want to see. I was very pleased with his performance, and he's a very fun guy to coach."

Trickett met with Fisher this week and informed the coach of his decision to transfer. Both parties declined to offer details of the meeting, but Fisher said his long relationship with Trickett and his family -- father Rick Trickett is FSU's offensive line coach -- made it a difficult conversation but an easy decision to grant the transfer request.

"We had a long discussion, and he had some things that he wanted to do, and I’m backing him 100 percent," Fisher said. "I hate losing him, we loved to have him, he was a heck of a player for us, he would have been a heck of a player for us, but that’s the way things are sometimes, and we wish him nothing but the best."

Trickett plans to visit several schools before making a decision on where he'll transfer.

With the veteran Trickett gone, sophomore Jacob Coker and redshirt freshman Sean Maguire remain in competition with Winston heading into fall camp. Coker is the only quarterback on the roster to have experience in a college game.

Fisher praised both Coker's and Maguire's potential, but as he provided analysis of the spring performance for each of the three quarterbacks, it seemed clear Winston had made the most progress in turning potential into performance.

"Jameis has a really good grasp on things, has developed in the system really well, is very intelligent, and athletically he can make the throws," Fisher said.
Jameis Winston arrived at Florida State with all of the hype and expectations that come with being the top-rated quarterback recruit in the country.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesJameis Winston's intelligence might be as impressive as his physical tools, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said.
Everybody saw why Saturday in his Tallahassee debut. Winston stepped onto the field at Doak Campbell Stadium for his first game in a Seminoles uniform. Sure, it was a spring game, but this one was hugely important. The starting quarterback job was hanging in the balance.

Winston entered the game for the first time in the second quarter. He stepped back to pass. The result? A 58-yard touchdown pass to David Tyrrell that sent jaws dropping. Winston got better from there, leading the No. 1 offense on two more scoring drives. He ended up with just three incompletions on the day and 205 yards passing -- thoroughly and completely outplaying presumed No. 1 quarterback Clint Trickett.

Four days later, Trickett announced his decision to leave the Seminoles.

Jimbo Fisher has not announced a starter for 2013, but the timing does not seem to be a coincidence. After that performance Saturday, Trickett had to know the Jameis Winston era was about to unfold in Tallahassee.

Trickett has done his part for the Seminoles, serving as the backup to EJ Manuel the past two seasons. He started twice in 2011 when Manuel was hurt. Though Fisher declared the starting quarterback job open this spring, Trickett went into practice No. 1 on the depth chart, given his experience and knowledge of the offense. Of the four players competing for the starting job, he had the most extensive game action.

But what Trickett has in experience and knowledge, Winston beats in talent and astounding potential. See: Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel tweeting about Winston following the spring game, writing, "Hearing this Jameis Winston kid is a baller out at Florida State. Spring Football dominating and pitching on the baseball team."

Indeed, Winston left the spring game and headed over to the baseball field, playing in the second game of a doubleheader against Duke. Winston ended up with one hit and is batting .282 on the season while compiling a 2.45 ERA and two saves in 14.2 innings as a reliever.

For many, it was a foregone conclusion that Winston would win the starting job just based on his prep credentials. The man he is most often compared to, Charlie Ward, attended the spring game and believed the same, telling the Orlando Sentinel, "He's special. There's no question about it."

Winston seems poised and mature for his age, a player who is used to high expectations and immense hype given his high school career. He also seems humble, saying after his magnificent spring game, "I got to get better. I still have to get better on my reads and play recognition. It's just so many different things and different aspects of my game that I have to improve on. I don't really have a comfort zone with my performance right now."

Winston could be the next Seminoles great. He could do what Ward did and what Chris Weinke did. He could end up being better than both. The time for him to begin living up to all those expectations starts now.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Spring practice arrived with some significant questions, and it ended with at least a slightly clearer indication of some answers. This week, we'll take a look at five of the biggest question marks of the spring and decipher what we learned and how much further the Seminoles have to go before the season kicks off.

First up: The quarterbacks

The question: Which of Florida State's four talented backups could take over for EJ Manuel and win the starting job?

Jameis Winston
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesRedshirt freshman Jameis Winston appeared to climb the quarterback depth chart this spring with a star quality that none of the other contenders possessed.
The possibilities: Clint Trickett entered the spring as the de facto No. 1 thanks to two career starts and three years on the sideline as Manuel's backup. Sophomore Jacob Coker was next in line, followed by redshirt freshmen Jameis Winston and Sean Maguire. Each had their supporters, but Winston's recruiting pedigree made him the most intriguing of the bunch.

What we learned this spring: Winston can back up the hype. The freshman split his attention between football and baseball throughout the spring but still wound up as the most impressive of the four candidates vying for the job, which speaks to his athletic ability and mental resolve.

"I don't have a social life," Winston joked.

Winston might not have time to get out much these days, but he's certainly got his share of admirers. He worked his way from third string to effectively splitting reps with the No. 1 offense by the end of spring practice, and he delivered in the spring game, completing 12 of 15 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns.

What's left to decide: Jimbo Fisher still isn't naming a starter, and Trickett and, to a lesser degree, Coker and Maguire remain in the mix. But Winston has clearly established himself as a potential star. Whether he starts the opener remains to be seen, but the notion that he'll eventually be Florida State's starting quarterback feels like something of an inevitability at this point.

FSU's spring winners and losers 

April, 15, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- While Jimbo Fisher won't be etching anything into stone after Saturday's spring game, there were clearly a few players who took big leaps forward during the past month and a few more who saw significant opportunities slip away.


Jameis Winston, QB

The performance: Winston entered the spring third on the depth chart, but tops in potential. He didn't disappoint. By spring's end, he was splitting first-team reps with Clint Trickett and dominated FSU's spring game, solidifying his place as the fan's choice for the starting job even if Fisher hasn't made anything official.

What comes next: Heisman? National championship? The Hall of Fame? With Winston, there doesn't appear to be such a thing as setting the bar too high. Fisher might be trying to temper expectations, but that's likely a lost cause. Winston still has plenty of work to do before he reaches the vast heights predicted for him, but he's only burnished his resume during the past month. What comes next for him though? "It's baseball season," he said after Saturday's spring game.

Winston backs up 'legend' status

April, 13, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jameis Winston had already reached cult status before he arrived at Florida State, but for the past year, the legend has been glimpsed only from afar, burnished by tall tales from secondhand sources and, of course, the occasional YouTube video of the highly touted quarterback chucking footballs over fraternity houses.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsJameis Winston drew oohs and aahs from the crowd with his two touchdown passes.
But Saturday's spring game at Florida State was different. The legend took the stage in front of fans for the first time, and Winston didn't disappoint.

On his first play from scrimmage -- just a few seconds into the second quarter -- Winston found walk-on receiver David Tyrell for a 58-yard touchdown pass, the first of three scoring drives he'd lead the No. 1 offense on in the game. It was a show-stopping debut on the big stage and also an emphatic exclamation point on a spring that vaunted the redshirt freshman to the forefront of FSU's quarterback competition.

"You have no choice but to see the talent and the uniqueness he has," said cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, who was beat twice on touchdown throws by Winston on Saturday.

Jimbo Fisher still isn't naming a starting quarterback. In fact, he didn't so much as reshuffle the depth chart in the immediate aftermath of Saturday's spring game, but it's impossible to ignore what Winston is capable of becoming if he's given the opportunity.

In all, Winston finished the day having completed 12 of 15 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns, and he might have scored a third on the ground had referees not blown an early whistle on a scramble to avoid any significant contact from defenders.

Winston's day ended a bit early, too. He wasn't on the field during the latter half of the fourth quarter, but he still managed to add to the legend by quickly changing clothes and darting across the parking lot to join the baseball team for Saturday night's game against Duke.

Winston's presence, his personality and his potential make him the center of attention regardless of whether Fisher is ready to name him the starter.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- For all the buzz about new schemes and aggressive tweaks to the defense, odds are Saturday's Garnet and Gold game will feature a relatively vanilla approach as Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt winds down the spring.

The quarterback battle has been the hottest topic in years among Florida State fans, but coach Jimbo Fisher has yet to draw any lines of demarcation on the depth chart, and he insists the four men vying for the job will again rotate reps Saturday.

Kelvin Benjamin
Melina Vastola/US PresswireKelvin Benjamin could be the player to produce the big plays in Saturday's Garnet and Gold game.
And after four weeks of intensity, the battle scars are showing. As many as a dozen key members of the 2013 Seminoles team won't be available for the spring game due to injuries.

So, what's there to be excited about as Florida State's spring practice comes to a somewhat anticlimactic conclusion? Actually, there's still plenty worth watching, even if some of the biggest curiosities will remain just that until fall camp begins in August. Here's a rundown of some of the most noteworthy items of intrigue on display Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium.

The QBs, of course

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