By KAREEM COPELAND, Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Jameis Winston is following the road map Bo Jackson laid out nearly 25 years ago.
The 20-year-old Florida State redshirt freshman will become the sixth Heisman winner in NCAA history to play college baseball after winning the award when the Seminoles open the season Friday. The last player to do it was Jackson in 1986, according to STATS LLC.
Both are from Bessemer, Ala., and Winston grew up using the former Auburn star as an incentive to realize his two-sport dream. Jackson, 51, is the only athlete to play in a Major League Baseball all-star game and the NFL Pro Bowl.
Winston also wouldn't mind following in the footsteps of another two-sport Florida State star — Deion Sanders. The former Seminoles defensive back is the only player to play in both the Super Bowl and the World Series.
"Being from Bessemer, all you heard about was Bo. Bo this, Bo that. Obviously, you had Deion (Sanders) and people like that," Winston told The Associated Press, adding that he also followed Brian Jordan's career, another two-sport star who played Major League baseball and in the NFL . "That also influenced me because people telling me what I need to do and I'm going to have to make a decision, and I'm just like, 'Hey, they're doing it ... so why can't I do it?'
"That's how I always looked at it when I was a little kid. If somebody else is going to do something, you're not (about to) tell me I can't do it. ... It's like, I'm not even worried about what your opinion is. I'm worried about what my goals are and what I'm trying to do in life."
He's off to a good start at a young age.
The 6-foot-4, 225 pound Winston already has a national championship on his resume and wants to add a College World Series title to his trophy case.
He's Florida State's closer with a 95 mph fastball, a slider and Winston is adding a split-changeup to his repertoire. He'll also play in the outfield and fill in as a designated hitter at times.
"I dreamed about everything when I was growing up," Winston said. "I dreamed about hitting a half-court shot in basketball. ... In football, I was dreaming about that last drive to score a touchdown, and that dream came true. In baseball, I was dreaming about hitting a walk-off home run. I did that before in my life, but not yet on the college level.
"I love to dream big. If you're going to dream, why not dream big?"
Sanders, who exchanges text messages with Winston, reminds the young Seminole to just be himself.
"This is when it gets real," Sanders told the AP. "Now that the national spotlight is on you, now you've really got to be protective and guard yourself against all sorts of" things.
Sanders said his advice to Winston has been "letting him know, stay right. Don't take the left, just stay right."
Still, there have been no shortage of suggestions as to the path Winston should take.
Maybe he should drop baseball and stick to football. Winston himself once thought his baseball ceiling was higher than his football options. Winston's grandfather was rooting for basketball before he scaled back to football and baseball in 8th grade.
"The biggest challenge is outside influences," Sanders said. "People that never played two sports that have an opinion, I can't even understand that to save my life. When you know who you are, what you are and how you are, no one else's opinion of you should even matter."
Winston was picked by the Texas Rangers in the 15th round of the 2012 draft.
The Rangers also took Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson last December in the Rule 5 draft of Triple-A players left off rosters. Texas general manager John Daniels got a read on Winston from his scouts.