THIBODAUX, La. -- As Florida State's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Jameis Winston doesn't believe the notoriety and scrutiny he faces on the campus of Florida State measures up to what his predecessor as Heisman winner, Johnny Manziel, faced at Texas A&M.
Manziel was amid a more rabid fan base, while a more internationally diverse student body at FSU isn't as passionate about football, Winston said Friday at the Manning Passing Academy. It's one reason Winston has what he called an "admiration" for the Cleveland Browns' rookie quarterback.
Asked about the criticism Manziel took for enrolling in online classes at Texas A&M in the spring of 2013, Winston defended the former Aggies star.
"I have some online classes and I have some (regular) classes. But in Johnny's case, I mean, he was getting heckled at Texas A&M. They didn't have a player like him. He's electric, he's a great person to be around, he's a fun guy. Of course, he attracts people to him," Winston said. "At Florida State, our fan base isn't like that. We are to ourselves. We've got a bunch of foreign girls and foreign boys that don't know (anything) about football. In College Station, they live and breathe that, so he was their idol. People wanted to be around him, so of course it was harder."
Debating which of two fan bases is more passionate can be a highly subjective argument. But the matter of student demographics isn't up for debate. According to statistics at collegeportraits.org dated 2012 and 2013, the nationality breakdown of the Florida State student body and the Texas A&M student body are actually similar in many ways.
Manziel's post-Heisman notoriety has been the stuff of amateur Paparazzi, with phone-sourced photos and video of his night life creating both a social media spectacle, and Manziel's reputation for partying. And although that element of Manziel's popularity certainly was never limited to College Station, Winston said he's well aware that a stranger's cell phone can capture his behavior at almost any given time.
"I'm very aware of that, but it's my job to hold myself to a certain standard, so that when people do look at me, they see a great young man and they see a man (whose) parents raised right," Winston said. "... It's more of a spotlight now. But that's something that comes with being a quarterback. It's the most scrutinized and praised position in sports. I admire Johnny. Johnny's going to have a great time, or, a great career, in the NFL, from my perspective."