Is Jameis Winston Already the Best Quarterback in Florida State History?

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Is Jameis Winston Already the Best Quarterback in Florida State History?
(Photo by Jeff Gammons/Getty Images)

Is all the hoopla over Florida State freshman quarterback Jameis Winston legit, or instead is he just another short-lived media sensation?

In other words, is he the kid who destroyed No. 25 Maryland and No. 3 Clemson in back-to-back weeks, or instead is he the guy who completed 52 percent of his passes versus FCS Bethune-Cookman?

According to David M. Hale of ESPN, here’s what legendary Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden had to say about Winston:

This young man is as good as anybody we’ve ever had.  Maybe as a freshman, that’s asking too much, but before he leaves here – and he might do it this year.


After only seven games the young “Famous Jameis” has already proven that he’s better than two Heisman Trophy winners and two first-round NFL draft picks?


In Winston’s case it’s easy to let the numbers speak for themselves, stats that scream unprecedented success through his first seven starts as a collegian.

Jameis Winston's Stats - 2013
Yr Comp Att % Yds TD INT
Winston 2013 128 183 69.9 2,177 23 4


How good are Winston’s numbers? To compare, take a look at the statistics of seven of Florida State’s best-ever quarterbacks in their first year as the starter. Remember, these are total-season numbers as opposed to Winston’s seven-game marks.

Florida State Quarterback Stats - First Year as a Starter
Yr Comp Att % Yds TD INT
Weldon 1991 189 313 60.4 2,527 22 8
Ward 1992 204 365 55.9 2,647 22 17
Kanell 1994 227 380 59.7 2,781 17 13
Weinke 1998 145 286 50.7 2,487 19 6
Rix 2001 165 286 57.7 2,734 24 13
Ponder 2008 177 318 55.7 2,006 14 13
Manuel 2011 203 311 65.3 2,666 18 8

Sports Reference College Football

Though each of these guys may have posted better numbers later in their careers, these stats represent their respective “opening salvos,” which is directly comparable to Winston, who never took a college snap until Sept. 2 at Pitt.

With just seven games complete, Winston has already thrown for more yards than Christian Ponder did in 13 games as a first-year starter in 2008.

Furthermore, he sits just 300 to 600 yards short of the other six guys with another half-season left to play.

What’s even more stunning is that Winston’s 23 touchdown passes (again in only seven starts) trumps the rest of the group minus one.

Only Chris Rix had more as a freshman, with 24 in 2001. But again, Rix took 11 games to get there as opposed to Winston, who still technically has seven games left to play.

/Getty Images
Chris Rix played QB at Florida State from 2001 to 2004.

Taking it up a notch, here’s what Winston is on track to do before 2013—his freshman season—is over.  These numbers take his average stats in each category and multiply them by seven, the number of regular-season games the ‘Noles have remaining plus the ACC title game and a bowl game.

These are added to Winston’s totals thus far this season and Voila!—the final tally.

Jameis Winston Projected Total Stats - 2013
Yr Comp Att % Yds TD INT
Winston 2013 256 366 69.9 4,354 46 8


These numbers blow away the competition, and to put a finer point on it, take a look at how Winston’s projected stats as a freshman stack up with each previous Florida State star quarterback’s BEST season.

Florida State Quarterback Stats - BEST Year as Starter
Yr Comp Att % Yds TD INT
Weldon 1991 189 313 60.4 2,527 22 8
Ward 1993 264 380 69.5 3,032 27 4
Kanell 1995 257 402 63.9 2,957 32 13
Weinke 2000 266 431 61.7 4,167 33 11
Rix 2003 216 382 56.5 3,107 23 13
Ponder 2009 227 330 68.8 2,717 14 7
Manuel 2012 263 387 68.0 3,397 23 10

Sports Reference College Football

If Winston stays on track, he’ll surpass the other seven Seminole greats in yards, completion percentage and touchdown passes.

As a freshman he’ll have thrown for more yards and more touchdowns than Chris Weinke and Charlie Ward did in their Heisman seasons.

If Winston hits his projected marks, he’ll break two NCAA FBS records. He’ll surpass Corey Robinson’s 3,726 passing yards at Troy in 2010 to become the most prolific freshman passer in yards and he’ll blow away Sam Bradford’s record of 36 touchdown passes by a freshman at Oklahoma in 2007.

Not only is Winston the best quarterback—at least statistically speaking—in Florida State history, he also is on track to become one of the greatest freshman quarterbacks in the history of the game.

/Getty Images

What will cement Winston’s place in Florida State football lore will come down to what he and the rest of the 2013 Seminoles can do with the five games remaining on their schedule and then in the postseason.

If Winston can make a run at the Heisman, and more importantly lead Florida State to the national championship game, there will be no doubt of his place in history.

Statistics courtesy of Sports Reference College Football and ESPN.  NCAA records via the FBS Record Book.

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