Heisman talk halfway through a college football season makes as much sense as picking the winner of the 2014 World Series. Such talk might lend itself to an entertaining debate on radio, but can anybody take seriously what people say in October about the Heisman Trophy?
No, but that hasn’t stopped sports junkies from weighing in. From Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota, A.J. McCarron to Teddy Bridgewater, the frontrunners have been anointed long ago, and it might not be easy to knock the Big Four off their perch.
Yet if anyone does, if any player has a chance to grab the Heisman Trophy from one of them, he will be redshirt freshman Jameis (rhymes with Amos) Winston, the gifted quarterback who has led Florida State to No. 2 in the BCS rankings.
Not that a redshirt freshman can ever be a sure bet, because the consensus among Heisman balloters has been that a freshman or a sophomores has another shot. The 19-year-old Winston will, too.
Still, shouldn’t Winston be judged with the same yardstick that people use on Manziel, Mariota and McCarron?
Winston did everything last Saturday to encourage talk about him and a Heisman when he outplayed Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, a onetime Heisman hopeful himself, in one of the biggest games of the season.
In the FSU win over Clemson, “Famous Jameis” was simply marvelous. He threw for 444 yards, numbers so gaudy on such a big stage that he made the Seminole faithful forget about Winston’s predecessor: EJ Manuel, a No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
Like Manuel, Winston can make all the throws. Like Manuel, Winston’s a double-threat quarterback. Unlike Manuel, Winston’s a college quarterback who doesn’t look to take silly risks. He seems willing to settle for the steady and not for the sensational, which is a recipe that should keep him in the Heisman hunt.
Look, no one is ready to christen Winston the second coming of Peyton Manning or even call him the next great Black quarterback. The road to greatness is littered with disappointments – for quarterbacks black and white. On the college scene, the measuring stick isn’t what it is in the NFL, and all rifle-armed, mobile Winston might turn out to be is just another great college quarterback – a Willie Totten or a Major Harris.
Watching him against Clemson, you see in Winston what you haven’t seen in a lot of freshman quarterbacks. He didn’t let the moment overwhelm him and he played with a poker player’s cool, going for the safe bets.
His rewards were Heisman-like numbers – Heisman-like numbers against a team that had hopes of competing for a national championship. Those hopes were buried under the avalanche of yardage that Winston rolled up en route to what might be the signature performance of the 2013 season.
Even on such a performance, Winston has miles to go before he can leapfrog an older player like “Johnny Football,” a man with a portfolio of great performances. Maybe instead of worrying about his winning a Heisman, we should all sit back and just watch Winston’s brilliance play out in front of us.
He will, at some point, have his reward.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)