11:11am: In a statement released by the Legacy Agency, which will represent him, Winston formally confirmed his decision today.
“After weighing this decision with my family and friends, I have decided to declare for the 2015 NFL Draft and forgo my remaining eligibility at Florida State,” Winston said. “I reached this very difficult decision after careful consideration and long thought, realizing how difficult it would be to say goodbye to my family at Florida State. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to wear the garnet and gold and have greatly enjoyed my time as a Seminole, both as an athlete and a student in the classroom.”
8:46am: Despite some rumors to the contrary, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston will enter the 2015 NFL draft, forgoing his remaining years of college eligibility, Winston’s father tells David M. Hale of ESPN.com. Per Hale, the redshirt sophomore is expected to make a formal announcement later today.
Winston, who turned 21 yesterday, led the Seminoles to a 26-1 record during his two years as the team’s starting QB, with the only loss coming in last week’s Rose Bowl against Marcus Mariota and Oregon. Winston and Mariota are viewed as the consensus top two quarterbacks available in this year’s draft, and with two teams in need of a signal-caller selecting first and second this year, there’s a chance Winston could be a top-two pick. In Todd McShay’s first mock draft, the ESPN.com scribe has Winston going No. 2 to the Titans.
In his two years at Florida State, Winston actually put up better numbers in his freshman season, racking up 4,057 passing yards and 40 touchdowns against just 10 interceptions en route to a BCS National Championship and a Heisman trophy. The young signal-caller’s overall numbers slipped a little across the board in 2014, but his on-field tools are still considered perhaps the best among this year’s class.
Off-field issues, however, will likely contribute to Winston being drafted after Mariota this spring. The 21-year-old has been involved in a number of controversies during his time at Florida State, most notably being accused of sexual assault, though he was recently cleared from violating the school’s conduct code in that incident. Winston has also been cited for shoplifting, and was suspended for Florida State’s 2014 opened vs. Clemson after making vulgar public remarks on campus.
In spite of those off-field red flags, Winston looks like a lock to come off the board within the first few picks of 2015’s draft. His name is the latest addition to our list of early entrants for this year.