Abdullah: Winston must grow up

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah, a candidate for this year's Heisman Trophy, says 2013 winner Jameis Winston of Florida State needs to clean up his act.

Abdullah and Winston both grew up in the Birmingham, Alabama, area and trained together at the same gym. Abdullah said he considers Winston a friend.

"It's kind of hard for me to understand what's going on with him right now, but from a general standpoint it's the maturity level," Abdullah said Monday. "Think before you act. Understand the bigger picture. Everything that you do, say or how you present yourself can have dire consequences. That's something I feel like he definitely needs to assess more."

Winston was suspended for Saturday's overtime win against Clemson after making "offensive and vulgar" comments on campus. In April, Winston was caught leaving a supermarket without paying for crab legs and crawfish and was ordered to perform community service. He was accused of sexually assaulting a student in 2012, but a prosecutor declined to press charges.

Abdullah, a 21-year-old senior, said the 20-year-old sophomore Winston seems to lack common sense.

"He's a very intelligent young man," Abdullah said, "but he's made his fair share of mistakes. It gets to the point where you feel like he needs to start understanding and take things more seriously because these things can alter what happens in his future."

Abdullah added: "Every situation you do, you represent not only yourself, the university, your family, people who go to the university. So being that guy who's the star down there, he holds much bigger weight than he realizes sometimes. ... I know he's much better than what he's shown."

Otis Leverette, a former NFL defensive end, confirmed that Abdullah and Winston trained together at his Birmingham gym. Abdullah and Winston went to different high schools, but Abdullah said they attended football camps together and have known each other since eighth grade.

Abdullah said last week's incident was a head-scratcher to him.

"Maybe he feels like he needs to be this guy in the spotlight all the time just because of who he is down there," Abdullah said. "Maybe he's doing things trying to be the guy making people laugh, but he's doing it in a very negative spotlight."

Abdullah said he doesn't accept the excuse that Winston is making mistakes because he's young.

"You should see yourself as a young guy but hold yourself to a higher level of maturity," Abdullah said. "Definitely he has a long way to go."