Jameis Winston: From sidelines to stardom

Orlando Sentinel

The first picture I took of Florida State's Jameis Winston was last year, on Sept. 22, 2012, when Jameis was a backup quarterback on the sidelines cheering alongside coach Jimbo Fisher for his teammates. I asked one of the veteran photographers on the sidelines, “Who is number 5? I just shot a picture of him cheering.”  The photographer responded, “His last name is Winston. He’s supposed to be a real good baseball player”. Wow, Winston’s football stock has risen quite a bit since then!

The next picture I took of Winston was of him, wearing a #44 baseball jersey, pitching in the NCAA Baseball Super-Regionals in Tallahassee in June of this year. At that point, it was still unclear as to whether he’d even be the starting quarterback. Who could know even six months ago that Winston is now a shoe-in for the Heisman Trophy this weekend?

On FSU Media Day, in August of this year, writers and photographers from the bigger newspapers are allowed brief access to the star FSU players for a few minutes to get interviews and pictures. I had arranged to get pictures of Jameis Winston, along with a few other players, for our themed football section. The theme this year was “Lucky 13” and I wanted a picture of Winston holding a horseshoe for the FSU cover photo. That was the first time that I noticed that there was interest in Jameis as a premiere athlete. Usually at the Media Day event inside Doak Campbell Stadium, we are allowed several minutes to pose the players and chat a little with them as we get different pictures to use for future publications. With Jameis this year, I was given “30 seconds” to photograph him with my studio lights and backdrop that I’d set up earlier. Boy, the FSU sports information people weren’t kidding! At about 25 seconds and just a few frames into the photography session, I was being asked, “Are you done yet?” There were so many other media entities interested in Jameis that I had to make it quick. I ended up getting what I wanted, but I noted that this guy must be someone to watch this season!

During the regular season, I photographed Jameis and noticed that, although he has very impressive size, 6’4, he is fast and strong and can scramble out of trouble. His throwing ability is unbelievable...he can throw very long and very accurate. Even when he gets in trouble, he is usually able to either outmuscle the defenders or get rid of the ball (See picture of him at UF earlier this month being tackled and throwing). He has dazzled almost everyone and gone from “not on the list” for Heisman pre-season to being an almost certainty to win it in New York on Saturday. Oh, yeah, he’s taking the ‘Noles to the BCS National Championship game in Pasadena next month too.

Hopefully I’ll add to my collection of Jameis Winston pictures by taking a photo of him hoisting the crystal football into the air in Pasadena!

smdowell@tribune.com Follow Stephen M. Dowell on Twitter @dowellstephen. Like us on Facebook: Orlando Sentinel Photography.

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