TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is The Associated Press national player of the year, adding to the redshirt freshman’s collection of postseason accolades. He is this year’s Heisman Trophy winner, the Walter Camp national player of the year, the Davey O’Brien quarterback of the year and the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year.
Seminoles football fans should send a thank-you note to Florida State’s baseball program.
If not for coach Mike Martin Sr. and one of his assistants, Mike Martin Jr., Winston — a two-sport athlete — might not be preparing to lead the top-ranked Seminoles against No. 2 Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif.
When Winston won the Heisman, he thanked the usual cast of family, coaches and teammates. Then there was the thanks to “Eleven” and “Meat.”
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Most of the country might have ignored the peculiar names, but Winston wouldn’t have attended Florida State without the warm relationship between football coach Jimbo Fisher and the school’s baseball coaching staff: “Eleven” — otherwise known as baseball coach Martin Sr., who has led the program for 34 years — and “Meat,” or Martin Jr.
Martin Jr. was on a recruiting trip to watch Winston during his junior year of high school when he called to let Fisher know. Fisher actually had video of Winston on his desk at the time and decided to watch. About 30 minutes later, Fisher called Martin Jr. back and said, “Don’t let him get away.”
Winston hit a winning home run that day.
“Jimbo Fisher deserves the credit for giving the young man the opportunity to display his talents in another sport,” Martin Sr. said.
Fisher actively looks for athletes that play numerous positions on the football field and/or play different sports.
“It makes you a different kind of competitor,” Fisher said. “You learn to learn the different situations.”
Bo Jackson, the 1985 Heisman winner, was also a two-sport star from Winston’s hometown of Bessemer, Ala. The 19-year-old Winston, who has said he wants to be better than Jackson, noted baseball teaches athletes to cope with failure.
Winston plans to compete for the closer job when Seminoles baseball begins.
He has a fastball that reaches 95 mph and throws a slider for strikes. Winston is poised to become the sixth winner in Heisman history to play collegiate baseball after winning the award and the first since Jackson in 1986, according to STATS LLC.
Martin Sr. said he believes Winston could be the No. 1 pick in the baseball draft if he was to singularly focus on that sport, adding he wants him to stick with both sports.
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