Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston looks to throw during the first half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football playoff semifinal against Oregon, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Former Heisman Trophy winner and Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston will not return to college next season after declaring for the NFL draft.
While Winston attracted attention for his off-the-field behavior, he also produced big results while under center. In his two years at FSU,Winston ranked fourth among college quarterbacks in touchdown passes (65), fourth in passing yards (7,964) and second in passes of 20 yards or more (124). Together, Winston and the Seminoles boasted a 26-1 record, including both a Heisman trophy and a national championship in 2013.
“After weighing this decision with my family and friends, I have decided to declare for the 2015 NFL Draft and forgo my remaining eligibility at Florida State,” Winston said in the statement. “I reached this very difficult decision after careful consideration and long thought, realizing how difficult it would be to say goodbye to my family at Florida State. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to wear the garnet and gold and have greatly enjoyed my time as a Seminole, both as an athlete and a student in the classroom.”
ESPN NFL Draft Insider Mel Kiper Jr., who ranks college players in the draft order he believes they should be selected, has Winston rated as the second-best quarterback behind 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota and the sixth player overall on his most recent list.
“He’s one of the unique players that I’ve ever had the privilege to coach,” FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher told ESPN. “He embodies what you as a coach want as a person, a student and a player. He’s a genuine and honest guy. He’s one of the greatest players in Florida State history.”
“I want to thank him for the way he represented himself and the organization in so many tough situations and the professionalism in which he handled the ability to be such a great teammate to his teammates and always put them and the program above himself,” Fisher said. “That’s a very unique ability to be able to do especially at his age.”
Winston encountered legal issues several times in his college career, most notably in late 2013 when he was the target of an investigation into an alleged sexual assault which occurred nearly a year earlier. The month-long investigation ended without charges filed against Winston.