Not that Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston needed any help in hurting his standing with NFL scouts as a draft prospect, but FSU coach Jimbo Fisher will apparently be a detriment to Winston's scouting evaluation as well.
NFL personnel men have a clear memory of Fisher providing them with a glowing recommendation of former LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell when Fisher was the Tigers' offensive coordinator, and given Russell's quick ouster from the league, scouts are unlikely to be buying what Fisher might be selling regarding Winston, according to Sports Illustrated.
"He told the entire NFL that JaMarcus Russell was a great kid," a source familiar with the situation told SI. "He was a [expletive] then."
Winston could declare for the NFL draft as early as 2015, but as a third-year sophomore, he could stay at FSU for up to two more seasons. Russell was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. He was signed to a contract worth up to $68 million, but was out of the league after three years with a 7-18 record as a starter. His NFL career was marred by everything from a rookie contract holdout, to attitude problems, to a weight-control problem. While Russell's track record at LSU didn't have nearly as many red flags as Winston's FSU career does, the NFL scouting community doesn't appear to be willing to assume that Fisher saw none himself as Russell's coordinator and position coach.
After all, this isn't the first time we've heard of NFL scouts having long memories about college coaches sugar coating the facts about their top players, with USC being a sore spot as well. Questions about Winston's character and decision-making are as loud as ever in the wake of his first suspension from a football game in his college career.
And if Fisher can't quiet them, perhaps only Winston himself can.