CLEMSON, S.C. -- In the bowels of Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C. in the tunnel that connects the field to the visiting locker room, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston held court. After the redshirt freshman lead his fifth-ranked Seminoles to a 51-14 victory over the No. 3 Clemson Tigers he was peppered with questions from the 60 or so members of the media that were dying to know how this kid felt.
Not that Winston acts much like a kid these days.
The 19-year-old phenom should be a little taken aback by the hounding of the reporters. Crowd noise and hostile environments should weigh heavy on his 6-foot-4-inch frame. The freshman shouldn’t be as poised as his is in the pocket at the college level.
Nothing seems to bother Winston.
Winston handled questions about his emotions before the game, during the game and after. He was asked about pressure, crowd noise, what his comments to the team were, and he handled them with the poise of a PR exec with 30 years of experience, smiling the entire time.
I turned to one of my colleagues when Winston was done speaking and said 'That was an example of humble swag.’ I’m sure the term has been used before, but I can’t quite define it. Maybe this is an example of opening a dictionary to humble swag to get (see: Jameis Winston).
Winston thanked God, he gushed over his teammates—mentioning many by name—and said head coach Jimbo Fisher was one of the best things to ever happen to him. He did everything he could to take the praise off him and place it squarely on the other members of this Florida State team.
To the question about what gave him confidence on Saturday, Winston responded “My team.” Pressed further he simply replied “They’re just amazing,” and spoke about how he, as a young athlete, feeds off watching the veteran members of his team operate, both on and off the field.
Asked how he dealt, and prepared to deal, with the loud environment of Memorial Stadium, Winston succinctly replied “We weren’t playing crowd noise, we were playing the Clemson Tigers. We weren’t worried about the noise. Noise is not another player.”
Winston said he sees no difference between last season’s team and this one, except they’re a little older now “and we’ve got that swag.”
That humble swag shows up off the field in situations like the one under the stands Saturday night. Winston’s swag appears on the field.
Winston threw for 444 yards against Clemson and scrambled for 25 more. He threw three touchdown passes and ran for another. As impressive as that was, his poise in the pocket, his composure when he’s being chased is reminiscent of a 10-year NFL veteran, not a 19-year-old redshirt freshman.
The young quarterback burst onto the scene on Sept. 2 when he threw four touchdown passes and went 25-for-27 in his first college game. He’s now led the Seminoles to six victories without a loss and has thrown 20 touchdowns with only three picks.
Steering the 6-0 Florida State ship as deftly as he has is starting to garner Winston some Heisman Trophy attention. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota might be the front-runner to win the award, and it’s likely his trophy to lose, but Winston, as a 19-year-old freshman, is making the college football nation consider his name.
Already well beyond his years both on and off the field, Winston seems to be doing everything the right way, and he’s doing it with a lot of humble swag.