There’s going to be a lot of conversation about the future of “Famous Jameis” Winston, Florida State quarterback, 2013 Heismap Trophy recipient, and MVP of last night’s BCS Championship Game—in which his Seminoles rebounded from a 21-3 deficit to the Auburn Tigers to win the game with seconds remaining. The twenty-year-old redshirt freshman (who celebrated his birthday the same night he won the championship) is about to become the face of college football after winning the Heisman and the championship in the same year, and he’ll be draft-eligible for the NFL in just a year.
But Winston’s already been drafted—by a Texas team. Specifically, Winston was a fifteenth-round draft pick of the Texas Rangers in the 2012 draft, and there’s actually a possibility he might pursue that path, according to this story from the Dallas Morning News:
It is not an idle thought. He picked FSU from a field of suitors because football coach Jimbo Fisher agreed to let him play baseball in the spring.
“I want to be better than Bo Jackson,” Winston told reporters in New York before receiving the Heisman last month. “Of course, I want to keep doing both. That’s my dream.”
Pre-draft scouting reports gave Winston plus grades for speed, arm strength and power. The Seminoles, a top-level program, used him as a reliever and an outfielder. He hit .235 with a .723 OPS in 119 at-bats and had two saves and a 3.00 ERA in 27 innings with a team that reached the super-regional.
“Better than Bo Jackson,” the NFL Pro Bowler and MLB All-Star, is a lofty goal for anyone, but we’ll take the enthusiasm of Winston—who was eight months old when Jackson played in his last professional sports game—as a sign that he’s serious about the idea of being only the third athlete since the sixties to play both NFL football and MLB baseball at the same time. It’s a rare feat—only Jackson and Deion Sanders have achieved it—but Winston is a superb athlete, and it would certainly add a lot of excitement to a career that’s already been plenty exciting. (It might also help Winston, who recently avoided prosecution on a sexual assault complaint, change the conversation around himself, which he’s probably keen to do.)
Winston isn’t the only football star the Rangers have recruited recently. The team selected Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in last month’s Rule 5 draft, though the odds that the starting quarterback for the current Super Bowl favorites will try to become a two-sport star are highly unlikely. However Wilson is likely to head to spring training with the Rangers, though, where his agent suggests that he’ll participate in batting practice and field ground balls with the team. (Wilson was previously drafted by the Colorado Rockies before entering the NFL.)
History suggests that, despite his athleticism and talents, Jameis Winston is unlikely to suit up for the Rangers in addition to for whatever NFL team makes him a high draft pick in 2015. Still, should a sub-par sophomore season lower his draft stock, anything’s possible: since the NFL enacted its rookie wage scale in 2011, players who aren’t top draft picks don’t exactly take home big bucks anymore. (Russell Wilson, as a third-round pick, earns $525,000 a year for an MVP-caliber season, and isn’t even able to negotiate for more money until 2015; by contrast, Peyton Manning takes home nearly 35 times that amount.) The average NFL player makes $1.9 million per year, while Major League ballplayers take home $3.2 million on average, according to Forbes.
Despite the money, the NFL is still America’s marquee sport, and there’s no reason to believe that Winston, who’s an outstanding NFL prospect, wouldn’t be a top draft pick. With that in mind, it seems like if there is a chance that Winston plays for the Rangers, or another team (he’ll be re-eligible for the MLB draft again in 2015), he’d be attempting to do it the way that Bo and Deion did. But given the disparity in money between mid-round NFL draft picks and their baseball-playing counterparts, it seems like we might see a successful college football player opt for the diamond over the gridiron at some point.
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)