1. He is a terrifying, cruelly efficient destroyer of defenses.
I mean that in the best way possible. Most first-year starting quarterbacks need some time to get acclimated to the college level. Some exceptional talents look comfortable right away, and then there is Jameis Winston, who completed the first 11 passes of his college career. He finished 25-of-27 in FSU's blowout opening-season victory over Pittsburgh, and while that might have seemed at the time like a daunting standard to set, it proved only a sign of things to come.
He heads into the BCS National Championship with the highest passer rating among FBS quarterbacks, and he also leads the country with an average of 10.9 yards per attempt. Opponents tried, mostly in vain, to find some way to get Winston out of sync -- all we really learned from those efforts is that slowing down FSU's offense is incredibly challenging, and blitzing Winston is of little use.
He completed 70.6 percent of his throws against the blitz in 2013; he also averaged 11.1 yards per attempt on plays where he was hit or hurried. Pressure did get to Winston at times -- he's not some football robot from the future, at least as far as we know -- but when teams missed opportunities to get him on the ground, these are the sorts of things that could happen:
2. His legend began well before the start of football season.
Winston spent the spring playing for Florida State's baseball team, hitting .235 in 41 games. He logged 27 innings as a relief pitcher and spent time in the outfield, where he was also able to show off his arm, striking down those who might try running on him:
We probably should have known then that he'd be special.
He was also a big hit at FSU's football media day in August, showing he could offer up a good quote, too. He really likes cheeseballs.
If he would give up a national championship for a lifetime supply of cheeseballs: "I would not, BUT I'm gonna get some cheeseballs anyway"— Perry Kostidakis (@perrykos) August 11, 2013
Rest easy, FSU fans, he hasn't been bought off by a cheeseball magnate from Auburn. (Are there cheeseball magnates?)
3. He could grab back-to-back Heismans.
Let's get this out of the way: winning the Heisman in consecutive years is really, really tough. Only one player in college football history has ever done it. As important as individual statistics are, team performance is a huge factor as well. Johnny Manziel had a shot at repeating this year and he had a fine 2013 season. But he was outdone by Winston in the stats department, and his team fell well short of title contention. A lot of things have to go your way, and there's a bit of a "last year's news" hurdle to overcome.
Winston also has to worry about being outdone by himself statistically, strange as that sounds, since he'll be compared to the standards he set in 2013. The wins should take care of themselves, though, because FSU will be poised for another undefeated run. There's always a chance that he'll be even better in 2014, too, and good heavens what a scary thought that is.