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.
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.