QBs take center stage in FSU spring game

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Jameis Winston dropped back on his first play of the afternoon, and saw his four receivers running vertical routes.

He quickly read that walk-on David Tyrell had separated himself from cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, and Winston lofted a perfectly thrown ball that hit Tyrell in stride as he streaked down the sideline for a 58-yard touchdown.

It was the start of an impressive afternoon for the Florida State redshirt freshman, as the nation’s top quarterback of the 2012 class completed 12 of 15 passes for 205 yards and touchdowns on his first two possessions during Saturday’s spring game.

He also scrambled a handful of times, including a 12-yarder down to the goal line that set up a Chad Abram 1-yard run.

“The offensive line and my wide receivers they came in and said, ‘Let’s go Jameis,’” Winston said. “I got in my happy place and I just said, ‘Let’s do it guys.’ And we did it.”

And after doing a two-minute interview with reporters, Winston was out the door to his other sport, walking less than 50 yards over to the baseball field to join his other teammates for Saturday’s doubleheader with Duke.

It was a far shorter commute than what he did last Saturday, practicing in the morning and then flying to Miami to pitch three scoreless innings of baseball.

On this day, about 25,000 fans came to Doak Campbell Stadium, and most of them wanted to watch the quarterbacks. As Florida State’s spring came to a close, Winston easily had the most consistent performance in leading the Garnet team on three touchdown drives (although the Gold team won 40-24).

Junior Clint Trickett threw for 259 yards but did so on far more plays, completing 22 of 32 passes — with an interception — while playing for both the Garnet and the Gold squads.

“Not good, not bad,” Trickett said. “Inconsistent. There were times when I would make a good throw, and there were times where in the middle of throwing the ball, I was like, ‘What are you doing?’ Maybe trying to make too much out of nothing instead of the little stuff that’s there.”

Jacob Coker completed 15 of 26 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown, also seeing time on both the Garnet and Gold teams. Sean Maguire went 6-for-13 for 113 yards and a touchdown.

Coach Jimbo Fisher goes into the summer without declaring a winner in the quarterback competition as to who will replace EJ Manuel. It’s clear that the battle will go well into August as the Seminoles prepare for the Labor Day opener at Pittsburgh.

“All of them made nice throws, and all of them had a touchdown,” Fisher said. “Very pleased with the progress.”

With top rushers James Wilder, Devonta Freeman and Mario Pender out with injuries, quarterbacks aired it out 91 times for 773 yards and five touchdowns.

Kenny Shaw caught 12 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown, and Kelvin Benjamin made eight receptions for 141 yards and a touchdown for the Gold. Rashad Greene led the Garnet with 11 catches for 120 yards and a touchdown.

Fans and media will surely talk about this day for the next three-and-a-half months until the team opens up August practice. The lasting memory is that Winston played exceptional, Trickett had his moments but was not consistent, and Coker has a strong arm but is still growing.

But this was just one day to close out the spring. The coaching staff has seen the entire body of work. And that’s what we don’t know.

There is something to Winston, however, from what he has shown first as a high school standout in Alabama, later at all-star showcases and then Saturday. It’s more than his two-sport antics. It’s his leadership, his poise and his demeanor. And his performance.

“Coach Fisher always tells us before our meetings, ‘Before y’all go out there, imagine there’s someone out there that’s going to see you for one time,’” Winston said. “What impressions are they going to have of you after the game.”

Right now that impression is one that will keep Florida State fans optimistic about what’s to come in the 2013 season.