Comparing Jameis Winston's Debut to Notable Freshman Quarterbacks

Athlon ranks Winston's performance against debuts of other hyped QBs

Monday night provided the football world its first look at Florida State's highly touted redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston. To say that Winston - known in Tallahassee as Famous Jameis - was impressive in his debut is an understatement. The Hueytown, Alabama product was a nearly perfect 25 of 27, shredding Pittsburgh for 356 and 4 touchdowns.

The garnet and gold appears to fit Winston well, as he broke the Florida State record for passing yards in a debut. Additionally, his four passing scores were one short of the five touchdown passes former Seminoles quarterback Danny Kanell threw in his debut in 1993. In fact, when compared historically with other super-hyped freshman quarterbacks, Winston’s performance is head-and-shoulders above the rest. Jameis Winston became the only quarterback over the last 10 seasons with three passing touchdowns and a rushing score in the first half of his first career game. In the last 10 years, Winston is just 1 of 8 players to complete at least 25 passes with a completion percentage above 85% against a BCS team.

Comparing College Football's Freshman Debuts

Player Result, Year Cmp-Att Pct Yards TD-INT Rushing Yards Rushing TDs
Matthew Stafford, Georgia W vs. UAB, 2006 10-17 58.8 107 0-0 14 1
Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame L @ Georgia Tech, 2007 17-32 53.1 144 0-1 -25 0
Matt Barkley, USC W vs. San Jose State, 2009 15-19 78.9 233 1-0 -5 0
Andrew Luck, Stanford W @ Wash State, 2009 11-23 47.8 193 1-0 53 0
Christian Hackenburg, Penn State W vs. Syracuse, 2013 22-31 60 278 2-2 -12 0
Jameis Winston, FSU W vs. Pitt, 2013 25-27 92.5 356 4-0 25 1
Braxton Miller, Ohio State W vs. Colorado, 2011 5-13 38.5 83 2-0 83 0
Michael Vick, Virginia Tech W vs. Clemson, 1999 7-17 66.7 88 0-3 41 0
Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State W vs. Troy, 2008 10-16 62.5 139 4-1 66 0

The young signal caller shined under the glow of the national spotlight on Monday night. The 6’4” 227-pounder proved his dual-threat abilities in the first half, running over a Panthers defender to score on the ground for five yards out. Winston was 17 of 18 in the first half for 240 yards and three touchdowns. The only incompletion Winston had in the first 30 minutes was a disputed play on the sidelines where senior receiver Kenny Shaw argued he got his foot down inbounds. The two-sport athlete led the Seminoles to touchdowns on their last four drives of the half.

At a school with two former Heisman trophy winners at quarterback (Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke) and two first round picks (Christian Ponder and EJ Manuel), Winston was praised by former ‘Noles quarterback Danny Kanell as the “most talented person” to ever play quarterback in Tallahassee. With play like this Winston could be headed to capture the school's third Heisman Trophy in the near future.

The Seminoles and their new leader take on Nevada next Saturday. Expect big numbers once again from the freshman phenom as the Wolf Pack gave up 58 points and 647 yards to UCLA.



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