TALLAHASSEE -- A star is emerging at Florida State.
Whether or not this was always the plan or merely a serendipitous development, Jameis Winston walked into a room full of reporters Sunday morning and further cemented his status as one of college football’s next big things.
Since the spring, Winston’s legend has been growing in Tallahassee and around the nation. And not at a gradual trajectory or in some graceful arc, while redshirt sophomore Jacob Coker struggled through an ankle injury during spring practice Winston’s star hurdled and surged, consuming everything in its path.
There he was starring in an FSU football scrimmage one spring afternoon before flying to Coral Gables and hitting 100 on the radar gun in a relief appearance that night against Miami. There he was on SportsCenter gunning down runners from the right-field warning track.
A winning personality
Like it or not, Winston’s star is off the ground and rocketing upward.
On Sunday, he effortlessly turned the day into the ‘Jameis Winston show’ and held court for more than 20 minutes, answering questions, firing off one-liners, quick-witted retorts and even a quick faux-wrestling promo.
But as Winston’s charisma continued to win people over, the uncomfortable truth permeating Florida State’s was that his emergence is coming too early. There is friction just beneath the surface and Florida State could find itself in a difficult position depending on how the coming weeks play out.
Coach Jimbo Fisher insists the quarterback competition remains open and that Coker will have every shot to win it.
But a fair is a carnival and Tallahassee and the Seminole fanbase determined the winner last spring.
Winston’s surging star might have already pushed Coker into an unwinnable situation.
As Winston was interviewed by a small herd of media on the other side of the room, Coker questions from a handful of reporters in the corner, repeating that he doesn’t worry about that stuff as a regular refrain.
As long as Winston is healthy and on campus, Coker might never have a fair shot with his own fanbase, Winston ensured that last spring. Fisher can tab Coker the starting quarterback and Coker could become one of the greatest of all-time too.
But that’s also the problem, he has to be the starter now or things will get brutal for him. Fans are never been shy about calling for the back-up and Winston’s star has already surged to the point where he would still be a fan favorite even as a back-up.
The moment Coker starts to have a bad stretch or throws an interception in a key spot, the boos might rain down from the stands at Doak Campbell, just like they did when the fans wanted Xavier Lee. Just like when they wanted Wyatt Sexton.
Coker is playing well enough to be named the starting quarterback. But it’s possible Winston’s star has already grown big enough that in the eyes of Seminole fans Coker might not be able to win the job.