Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, the reigning Heisman winner, went into spring practice with some definite improvements in mind. Through a bit more than half the spring workouts, Winston's progress has been just OK.
"He hasn't played up to his capability. He's missed some throws," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher told ESPN.com. "That's part of it -- you have to grind through it. Not everything is a utopia."
In a pre-spring news conference, Winston mentioned two mechanical issues he needed to work on: "holding the ball a little higher and my hips. I have to get my hips into the ball that I throw. ... I'm going to get better with my hips, get the ball up higher, and start throwing rockets."
In that same news conference, Fisher said he expected Winston to improve "his footwork, balance and body control," and that in turn would improve his accuracy. Winston threw for 4,057 yards and 40 TDs, and completed 66.9 percent of his passes in 2013, when he led the Seminoles to the national title.
One issue with the mechanical work is that Winston also is playing for FSU's top-ranked baseball team; he has missed one spring practice because of his baseball duties but won't miss any more. Winston has four saves and a 0.64 ERA in nine games; he has 15 strikeouts in 14 innings. He has allowed one earned run and just seven hits.
Another issue is that outside of senior wide receiver Rashad Greene, who should be one of the nation's best at his position this fall, the Seminoles' receiving corps is extremely unproven and Winston and the young receivers are getting used to each other. Fisher wasn't happy with the wide receivers at Monday's scrimmage, and that position appears to be the weakest on the team. In addition, senior tight end Nick O'Leary was hurt in a motorbike accident and will miss the rest of spring drills, which removes another familiar face for Winston.
As important as spring practice can be, remember that Winston will be able to work on his mechanics and with his receivers for almost five months between the end of spring drills and the start of the 2014 season. He played at an extremely high level as a redshirt freshman in 2013, and while he is not a finished product, he certainly is well on his way to being one. The young receiving corps and a rebuilt running game could mean FSU's offense is less explosive in 2014, but if it is, it likely won't be because Winston isn't ready to play at a high level.
Winston will be a third-year sophomore in the fall and will be eligible to enter the 2015 draft should he choose. Fisher and Winston have said the quarterback will stay in school for the 2015 season.