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Jameis Winston intends to enter 2015 NFL Draft

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Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
Jameis Winston suffered the first loss of his career as FSU's starter in the Rose Bowl vs. Oregon.

One of the most eagerly awaited draft declarations came Wednesday, with Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston announcing he will apply for entry into the 2015 NFL Draft.


» Brooks: Why staying in school would have benefited Winston


While Winston has had well-documented off-field issues, he played at a high level in a pro-style offense and is expected to gain consideration as the possible No. 1 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks wrote last week that Winston's character issues will raise red flags in most meeting rooms. But Brooks also wrote that "Winston remains the most pro-ready passer in college football. He is an exceptional pocket passer with big-time talent and valuable experience in a pro system."


» List of underclassmen who have declared intent to enter 2015 draft


Winston threw for 7,984 yards, 65 touchdowns and 28 interceptions (including 18 this season) in his two years with the Seminoles.

Winston released a statement regarding his decision through The Legacy Agency, which has been retained to represent him:

"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. 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.

Check out Florida State's quarterback, Jameis Winston, the 2013 Heisman winner and two-sport star.

"I will always take pride in leading our team back to national prominence and am confident that my returning teammates will continue the success for many years to come.

"To the fans, I can't thank you enough for the support you showed me and the team over the last three seasons; it was a humbling experience to bring the Championship back to Tallahassee for you all to enjoy.

"To my teammates, it's been an incredible opportunity to play with the most impressive collection of talent and people the game has seen; you all have been there for me through the highs and lows and the relationships we have formed extend well beyond the field. For this, I thank you.

"To the coaching staff and especially Coach Fisher, I am forever grateful for the ways you developed me as a player and a person as I have grown over the years. I knew I made the right decision to come to Florida State four years ago and couldn't be happier with this choice as I write this today.

"As I embark in the next challenge of playing in the NFL, I look forward to contributing to a long line of successful alumni at the next level. I want you all to know that I will make Seminole Nation proud and continue to bring the passion and love for the game you all have seen in Doak Campbell since my first day as a 'Nole. Thank you for making my time in Tallahassee the of the best years of my life."

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Winston, a third-year sophomore, won the Heisman in 2013 and suffered just one loss in his two seasons as FSU's starter -- 59-20 to Oregon in last week's Rose Bowl. He told reporters after the loss that he wasn't thinking about the draft. "I'm not focused on that at all," he said. "I'm looking forward to next season and playing baseball."

FSU's baseball season begins in February, and while declaring for the draft wouldn't necessarily preclude him from playing baseball, it seems likely that NFL teams will want Winston to focus on draft preparation.

The off-field issues mean Winston will be one of the most scrutinized players in recent memory.

Perhaps the only draft decision more anticipated than Winston's is that of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who will lead the Ducks against Ohio State in Monday's national championship game.


» Brooks: Nine NFL teams that need to draft a quarterback in 2015


Quarterbacks were selected with the overall top pick 12 times in 15 drafts from 1998-2012. But an offensive tackle (Eric Fisher) and a defensive end (Jadeveon Clowney) have gone first overall in the past two drafts.

Winston's decision means FSU next season will be without seven players who started on offense in the Rose Bowl.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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