Seminoles’ Winston talks future after ugly loss to end season

PASADENA, Calif. — Jameis Winston hadn’t lost in two college seasons as a starting quarterback. His last defeat came in 2011, when he was the QB at Hueytown (Ala.) High School.

There were 26 starts. There were 13 games in which he threw for 300 or more yards. Some were not so good, especially the four-interception day against Florida a month ago.

But all of them were wins. Until Thursday at the Rose Bowl.

Florida State’s amazing streak of 29 consecutive wins came to an end with a 59-20 loss to Oregon. But so did Winston’s unprecedented string of 26 starts in a row without a defeat.

"Losing is really not in my vocabulary, to be honest with you," Winston said. "But we fell short today."

Winston went on to remark that "we’ve got tons of great futures." But he didn’t clarify his plans for 2015. The quarterback, who also has pitched and played outfield and designated hitter for Florida State in 2013 and ’14, would say only that he wants to continue to pursue two sports.

"I’m looking forward to next season and playing baseball," Winston said. "I’m just trying to get better every day."

Winston’s redshirt sophomore football season is finished. He has until Jan. 15 to declare for the NFL Draft. He is likely a top-10 overall pick if he chooses to leave for the NFL. He could also stay in school and play both sports. Or he could go to the NFL but try to retain his amateur status in baseball.

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The options are there for Winston, who has two weeks to evaluate what he wants to do.

If this was his last college football game, it didn’t end the way he wanted. But it wasn’t a terrible performance, either.

Winston completed 29 of 45 passes for 348 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown pass to Travis Rudolph that cut the deficit to 25-20 with 8:07 left in the third quarter.

But then things fell apart for Florida State. The Seminoles turned it over five times in the second half, one of them an ugly play where Winston tried to elude a sack, only to fumble and have Tony Washington run 58 yards the other way for a touchdown that gave Oregon a 45-20 lead.

"We just got beat, turned the ball over too many times," Winston said.

If this was indeed the last time Winston suited up for Florida State, he leaves after two seasons of drama and controversy. The Seminoles dominated most of the 2013 season — winning 12 of 14 games by 30 or more points — before rallying to defeat Auburn 34-31 for the BCS national title.

In 2014, Florida State captured another ACC title but did it in nail-biting fashion — by winning six games with second-half comebacks.

Winston also faced a long list of off-field concerns. He was investigated for sexual assault dating to a December 2012 incident but was never arrested or charged. And, just a few weeks ago, no charges were brought forward in a student code of conduct hearing.

Florida State vs. Oregon

But he always seemed to be in the news off the field, for stealing seafood from a Publix grocery store in April to shouting obscenities in the Florida State student union in September.

"Everything I’ve been through, everything that I’ve experienced has just made me a better person," Winston said. "Especially that’s why I’m so happy I came to Florida State, because I’ve got a coach (Jimbo Fisher) that loves me, and I’ve got teammates that love me. There’s nowhere else to go but up when you’ve got great people surrounding you and you’ve got a great family.

"But it ain’t over yet. Hopefully, I’ve got a long life ahead of me. I don’t plan on dying today."

Fisher has been a staunch defender of Winston while also praising his football acumen. A few days before the Rose Bowl, Fisher said Winston has rare vision and anticipation on the field, qualities that go far beyond the NFL-prototype size (6-4, 230 pounds) and arm strength.

"What he did as a competitor and what he does with his teammates, he’s one of the great players in not only college football, (but) college football history to me," Fisher said. "He’s a tremendous player, tremendous competitor, tremendous person. Have to wait and see what the future holds."