Winston: Learned lessons last year

ByDavid M. Hale ESPN logo
Monday, July 21, 2014

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston said Sunday at the ACC's preseason kickoff that he'd learned some valuable lessons about the glare of the spotlight he's endured -- and in some cases, created -- during the past year.

"I know I have to live up to the hype," Winston said. "If I'm even an inch below that standard, it'll be chaos."

Winston, however, largely avoided questions about his citation for stealing crab legs at a Tallahassee grocery store, which never resulted in charges.

There was no more anticipated event at the ACC's preseason kickoff at the Grandover Resort on Sunday than the appearance of Winston, but the expectation that the Heisman Trophy winner might fuel a media frenzy never quite materialized.

Winston met with radio and TV media and sat with reporters for nearly an hour, mostly dodging any pointed questions with some well-practiced retorts. When asked about reports he'd stay at least two more seasons at Florida State, Winston said he was focused on today and "couldn't predict the future."

When asked about his tumultuous offseason, which included the crab legs incident, he said he's learned from his mistakes. When asked about the seemingly endless string of controversies that have accompanied his meteoric rise to stardom, Winston shifted attention from himself and, as he did so often during last season's high-profile sexual assault investigation, focused on the support of his teammates.

"It comes with the territory," Winston said. "You always have to have a smile on your face. Leadership isn't just on the field. It's off the field, too, and I know I have a lot of young guys looking up to me, and I know I have a lot of support from my teammates as well."

Winston was jovial throughout the sessions, laughing and joking routinely. He talked about his father bringing the Heisman Trophy to restaurants in his hometown, and he gushed about the stars he met at last week's ESPYs. A media horde of nearly 100 reporters surrounded Winston, many grabbing space up to an hour before his arrival, but Winston sidestepped anything that might be considered even slightly controversial.

When he was quizzed on wide receivers who might step up this year, he listed Florida State's entire depth chart -- including walk-ons. When asked his thoughts on social media, he said he won't tweet anything he has to think twice about.

And when it came to repeating as national champions, Winston repeated the line coach Jimbo Fisher has already made a hallmark this offseason.

"We're not defending anything," Winston said. "We're trying to go get another championship. It's a clean slate."

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