It was a remarkable year for Florida State football, particularly for starting quarterback Jameis Winston.
The two-sport athlete redshirted as a freshman in 2012 and entered the 2013 season with high expectations after sharing MVP honors in the nationally recognized "Elite 11" camp for the nation's top high school signal-callers.
Add in the fact that Winston is 6'4", nearly 230 pounds and mobile, and you can begin to understand the enormous hype.
The big-armed passer from Bessemer, Ala. then proceeded to lead the Seminoles to an undefeated season, which culminated with a game-winning drive against Auburn in Pasadena to secure a national championship.
Oh, and he brought the Heisman Trophy back to Tallahassee as well. In short, Winston saw Manziel's remarkable campaign in 2012 and one-upped it by a fair margin.
Though he'd likely be taken high were he eligible for the 2014 NFL draft, Winston must remain in college for at least another season until that option becomes available. In the meantime, Famous Jameis is off to the ballpark to play baseball while college football enters hibernation.
Finding ways to stay hungry and competitive in the offseason is never a bad thing, but there's no limit to what Winston can accomplish on the gridiron. He's had arguably the greatest start to a career in the sport's storied history. Which is why, at this point, Winston should focus his complete attention on his true calling, football.
Your first reaction might be, who is this guy to call football his true calling? What if he could equal or exceed his football accomplishments on the diamond?
To answer that, there's little question about which sport Winston is better at. Sure, he's got potential to be a great pitcher, and he is even in line to win the closer spot on the Seminoles baseball team. But in his first year, Winston pitched 27 innings and posted a 1-2 record with a 3.00 ERA. He tacked on 21 strikeouts with 12 walks.
At the plate, Winston batted .235 in 41 games. None of those statistics are bad, but they aren't remarkable. Winning the Heisman Trophy, going undefeated and passing for over 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns is very remarkable. So it's safe to say that, despite a reported 95 mph hour fastball and potential spot at closer, football is where Winston shines above all else.
The second way to answer those questions would be to say "you know what, I'm selfish. I don't want to see baseball luring away someone who's done a lot of great things for the sport of football."
What if Winston does continue to buck the odds, becomes the next Stephen Strasburg and agents suddenly lurk around him with promises of massive future contacts in the MLB that the NFL can't match? After all, players last a lot longer in their profession when they aren't getting sacked every week. Great pitchers can exceed 20 years for their playing careers; that's not going to happen for quarterbacks.
All of that isn't to say that Winston should switch to baseball altogether, but if you're a true fan of football, do you really want him to consider making that switch someday? I know, I know, if it's what he wants then he should go for it. No argument here. But that doesn't mean we can't selfishly hope he sticks with football. I mean, how much fun was it to watch him over the past six months?
Another aspect to consider is how commonplace injuries have become for pitchers. New York Mets ace Matt Harvey is out potentially through the 2014 season after having Tommy John surgery. The aforementioned Strasburg had injury issues of his own after entering the major leagues. Those are just two of dozens of players who have developed serious issues in their throwing arms.
That wouldn't matter as much if Winston were doubling as a soccer player, but his arm, you might agree, is fairly important in football. Is it worth the risk, even in a closing role? If he does win the job, his innings are guaranteed to go up, so he'll be adding a lot more offseason work for an arm that will be expected to be revved up and ready to go come August.
And while it's easy to say that a pitching injury shouldn't be a major concern, how many of you would backtrack on that sentiment if one actually occurred? How many people who, right now are saying he should go for it, would criticize the decision following an injury? With football glory almost assured at this point, at least in terms of reaching the NFL, is adding more stress to the throwing arm worth it?
Finally, you could point to playing baseball in the offseason as a way for Winston to stay fresh, competitive and motivated. But remember that we're talking about a guy who, in his first year as a starting quarterback, went undefeated and captured a Heisman Trophy. His pregame speeches are already the stuff of legend.
Does Winston really need to work on his competitiveness? Or his poise? Is playing baseball going to make a difference in how prepared he'll be for the 2014 college football season? If not, then you have your answer on what he should be doing.
Yes, we realize Winston isn't facing a decision and that he'll indeed be playing baseball. Nobody's holding his or her breath over what he's going to do because he's already started practicing with the team. It's his life, and anyone forcing him to do one thing or another would be in the wrong.
It's also commendable that Winston wants to help Florida State athletics continue to achieve greatness, and given his demeanor and charisma, he's definitely an asset to the baseball team. But he's already given 'Noles fans a season they'll remember for the rest of their lives, and another one may be on the horizon.
With baseball clearly playing second fiddle and because of the risk of injury to his prized arm, Jameis Winston should stick to football moving forward.
All baseball stats via ESPN.