Jameis Winston is the best player in college football this year – hands down. If we had a Heisman Trophy ballot, he’d be at the top of it.
The 6-foot-4, 228-pound redshirt freshman from Bessemer, Alabama (home of former Heisman winner Bo Jackson) has been a force of nature this season – leading the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles to a 10-0 record. In fact there’s a case to be made FSU is the best team in the nation this year – something they are on track to prove if they can win their next three games against Idaho, Florida and whoever emerges from the ACC Coastal Division.
Winston’s statistics are gaudy. He has thrown for 2,938 yards and 28 touchdowns against only seven interceptions – completing 71 percent of his passes in the process. His numbers would no doubt be much higher if the Seminoles weren’t blowing opponents out of the stadium each week, too (Winston only played two quarters against Syracuse last week, for example).
But beyond stats, Winston has demonstrated tremendous maturity on the field – leading his team to big wins on the road against No. 3 Clemson and at home against No. 7 Miami.
Of course there’s a problem …
A little over a week ago, news broke that Winston was at the heart of an investigation into an alleged sexual assault said to have taken place on December 7, 2012.
Winston and the unnamed woman alleging the assault definitely had sex. An analysis conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed Winston’s DNA matched that of a sample taken from the woman’s underwear, and Winston’s attorney has said the quarterback and the alleged victim “absolutely” had consensual sex.
The case against Winston was classified as “open” until February 2013, but that’s when the victim – an FSU student – stopped cooperating with authorities.
“Shortly thereafter a representative of the young woman’s family who is an attorney contacted (Tallahassee Police Department) and said the young woman had changed her mind and did not wish to prosecute,” reads an email obtained by The Tallahassee Democrat.
This week, The Tampa Bay Tribune revealed one reason why that may have been the case – publishing a statement from the family of the alleged victim that put cops in Tallahassee on the defensive.
“When the (alleged victim’s) attorney contacted Detective (Scott) Angulo immediately after Winston was identified, Detective Angulo told the attorney that Tallahassee was a big football town and the victim needs to think long and hard before proceeding against him because she will be raked over the coals and her life will be made miserable,” the statement reads.
Wow … the statement goes on to say police botched the case from the beginning, failing to collect evidence or interview Winston’s roommate, who is said to have witnessed the attack.
Of course police did obtain a rape kit from the alleged victim after she reported the assault – and obviously enough evidence was collected for police to match Winston’s DNA to the woman.
Look, Winston is innocent until proven guilty. In fact we’re not even to that point yet because the 19-year-old hasn’t been charged with a crime. Who will make that decision? William Meggs – the state attorney for Florida’s second judicial circuit.
We’ll withhold judgment until we what Meggs decides to do … and what evidence was involved in his decision.