CFB AM: Um, Winston’s Wonderlic score should shock nobody
On Tuesday, a couple reports surfaced about the Wonderlic scores — a test prospects take during the NFL Draft process — for Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston. Mariota reportedly scored a 33, while Winston’s reported score was 27.
There were two different reactions.
Mariota, known as an intelligent, humble, cerebral person, surprised nobody that he did so well. His 33 is the same as Tom Brady scored and is two points lower than Aaron Rodgers and four points lower than Andrew Luck.
Winston, known as the cocky and brash kid who couldn’t stop doing stupid things at Florida State, seemed to shock everybody with his 27, which is only one point lower than what Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Russell Wilson scored when they took the test. But that reaction was based on a public perception of Winston and not his intellectual ability.
My colleague Bruce Feldman underscored that point pretty nicely here:
Lots of folks seem to be surprised Jameis Winston got a good Wonderlic score. They do know he got accepted to Stanford out of HS, right?
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) April 15, 2015
We had Stanford coach David Shaw on The Audible a few weeks back, and he spoke a little about Winston, his intelligence and how close he was to coming to Stanford. Ultimately, it wasn’t intelligence or ability that kept Winston from joining the Cardinal. It was simply proximity to his home in Alabama, which made FSU a better fit.
It’s understandable why people underestimate Winston’s intellect. He talks with a casual, country slang and has repeatedly made decisions — stealing from a grocery store, screaming an obscene and offensive joke in the FSU student union, on and on — that would make you think he’s an idiot. All of this leads to a 27 on the Wonderlic being a shock.
"They don’t know [how smart Winston is]," Shaw said on The Audible. "But again, that’s on Jameis. What are you presenting to people? You’re presenting something and they’re making judgments on it, and you can’t blame them because that’s what you’ve shown them. It’s on every individual. If you’re presenting something you don’t believe is who you really are, that’s not other peoples’ fault. That’s your fault. You need to be constantly putting out what you truly believe about yourself."
Shaw is completely right on that point, of course, which is why he wouldn’t be surprised at the reactions to Winston’s Wonderlic score. The player has created this perception. But this is also true: Winston’s ability to consume information, calculate it on the field and perform does not bring questions. Only his off-field decision-making does. He is plenty smart and talented enough to be a great NFL QB.
THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. Florida lineman’s career is over. There’s disappointing news about Gators offensive lineman Rod Johnson. He suffered a "stinger" in spring practice, felt some numbness in his fingers and hands and went in for further tests. The results of those tests are back, and Johnson’s football career is over. He was diagnosed with congenital cervical stenosis, a condition that puts the spinal cord in danger by not allowing enough fluid around it to protect it. It’s the same thing that ended the career of Cooper Manning. The news is sad, because Johnson surely had NFL dreams he was trying to achieve, but in time gratitude will overtake the disappointment. Johnson can go on living a healthy, productive life and is so fortunate not to discover this condition after being paralyzed on the field. Good luck, Rod.
2. Texas-Texas A&M rivalry on its way back? If Kevin Sumlin and Charlie Strong have anything to do with it, at some point the Longhorns and Aggies will restart the rivalry between the two schools that was shut off when A&M moved to the SEC. Said Strong: "Over 100 years, we’ve played that game. Why stop it now because we’re in different conferences? At some point, when it’s right for everybody with the different schedules, I would love to play Texas A&M again." Said Sumlin: "Now, moving into Year 4 and listening to our former students and our alumni base and knowing a lot of Texas alums, it’s important that we play again." Sumlin noted that when he took over at A&M, he was so occupied with preparing his program to compete in the SEC that it didn’t hit him how big the rivalry with Texas was to fans in the state. Now, with some time to engage the culture, he says he understands why it’s such a big deal. In order to get it done, though, the administrations will have to decide it’s important enough to their business.
3. Utah is going fast and furious. The Utes are getting after it in recruiting and want fans and prospective players to know. So what did they do? They filmed a "Fast & Furious" recruiting video, zooming around the Salt Lake City highways in cool cars. Looks fun.
* Arkansas sent a recruit’s girlfriend 15 letters in the mail. Keep on grindin’, Bielema.
* Bill Connelly is dutifully pumping out his team-by-team offseason previews over at SB Nation. With a little luck, he asks, could Utah State win the Mountain West title?
* Few things get it fired up like the Big Cat drill at LSU. Enjoy some spring hitting.
Have a great Wednesday, everybody.
Teddy Mitrosilis works in content production at FOX Sports Digital. Follow him on Twitter @TMitrosilis and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.