Even in high school, Florida State quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston was criticized. Winston was called cocky and arrogant, former teammates said.
But that criticism and the pressure of playing for his hometown high school never affected Winston, former Hueytown High school football coach Matt Scott said Saturday at the "Jameis Winston Day" celebration. Winston is extremely confident, Scott said, and some people mistake that confidence for arrogance.
When Winston, the final speaker, addressed the crowd, he emphasized the importance of confidence.
"Y'all can do whatever y'all put your mind to," Winston said. "If you believe in yourself you don't need anybody else to believe in you."
Scott was one of seven speakers who heaped praise upon Winston during the ceremony held at Hueytown's Gilmore-Vines Stadium, which is no longer in use. About 200 people saw Winston get his high school jersey retired, and the Alabama State Legislature recognized him as well.
"This event today was to celebrate his athletic ability," Hueytown Mayor Delor Baumann said when asked about Winston's off the field troubles this past year. "People can have their opinions about stuff. That's for somebody else to decide. I'm sure we do things that we would maybe like to do different, but we all learn in life."
Despite all the controversy surrounding Winston this past year, South Alabama wide receiver Wes Saxton wasn't surprised that his former high school quarterback's on-field performance didn't suffer.
"I'm definitely protective of him," Saxton said. "He's like a brother. I know the real Jameis, so what other people say and stuff doesn't really faze me."
Winston is goofy, affable and a winner, Saxton said. Winston never cared about statistics in high school, Scott said. He remembered Winston was nearing 300 passing yards one game, but he told Scott to give someone else the chance to play during the blowout.
Phillip Suitts writes for The Tallahassee Democrat.
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