If it wasn't for Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston might be shooting for college football history in 2013.
The redshirt freshman was nearly flawless in Week 1 and played his way into the Heisman Trophy consideration in the process. Unfortunately, reigning Heisman winner Manziel already paved the way when he became the first freshman to take the award.
However, nothing could be done by Manziel to take away from Winston's phenomenal debut.
In a 41-13 eradication of Pitt, Winston completed 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns. He also added another score on the ground and 25 rushing yards.
All of that production equates to a gargantuan quarterback rating of 252.23—the highest of any quarterback in Week 1. His completion percentage of 92.6 also stands as the second best in the FBS.
Of course, those numbers didn't just come about by chance.
Rather than playing the role of a nervous, inexperienced freshman, Winston acted as a puppet master for FSU, controlling the game at will. Not surprisingly, many onlookers took notice, including quarterback guru George Whitfield.
With the poise better than some fifth-year seniors, it is easy to see why Winston has been thrust into the Heisman conversation.
It may seem early to tab Winston as the next big thing in the sport, but at the same time, there is no questioning that he is an elite talent and should be right in the thick of the Heisman conversation.
No player was as impressive as Winston through the entire weekend, a feat which should earn a heaping of praise no matter the time of year, and the FSU QB certainly received his praise.
Former Seminoles EJ Manuel and Peter Warrick both took to Twitter to celebrate Winston as he lit up the Panthers:
This dude the #Truth— Peter Warrick (@Pdub80) September 3, 2013
On the edge of my seat watching J pick em apart! #proud— EJ Manuel (@EJManuel3) September 3, 2013
Meanwhile, Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant also tweeted that he was a believer after seeing just one half of play from Winston, a tweet that ESPN aired during Monday night's broadcast:
This guy Jameis Winston made me a believer after 1 half of football— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) September 3, 2013
With an NBA All-Star, two Seminoles legends and a quarterback guru among the many singing Winston's praises before he had even played a full game, it may all seem like too much, too soon.
However, Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer said it best—set the bar high now and reevaluate as more sides of Winston show up throughout the season:
Yes, it's one game, but it's OK to be over-the-top excited about Winston. Be nutty, set the bar high, and adjust when you need to.— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) September 3, 2013
Winston will continue to be tested, and he will face opponents much tougher than Pitt, a team voted to finish near the bottom of the Atlantic Coast Conference in the preseason.
The Seminoles will undoubtedly be in the race for the ACC title against the other darling from Week 1, Clemson.
Does Jameis Winston have what it takes to make a Heisman run?
With Tajh Boyd at the helm for the Tigers and Winston now leading the Seminoles, Florida State's Oct. 19 trip to Death Valley may prove to be one of the biggest games of the season.
If Winston can best Boyd, a fifth-year senior, he will still have to guide the 'Noles through two rivalry tilts in November against Miami and Florida. If the freshman sensation keeps up his strong play through the long season, he'll have one more Heisman audition in the ACC title game.
With Winston playing well, Florida State looks like a top-10 team with the potential to be a national title contender—and if FSU remains in the spotlight, Winston's Heisman candidacy will only grow.
The Heisman race is still wide open with Boyd, Manziel, Ohio State's Braxton Miller, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and many others still in the running for the award.
However, after one week, Winston is playing as well as any of the upperclassmen he is pitted against.
So if you're already tired of the "Winston for Heisman" hoopla, you might want to leave the country, because it isn't going away anytime soon.