Jameis Winston, the former Florida State University quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner, has been plagued by enough off-field issues to make NFL teams hesitate before making him the overall number one or number two draft pick — the spots where he is projected to be selected when the league holds its annual draft on April 30.
Winston faced a sexual assault allegation in 2013, and since then has also faced less serious but still troubling — for NFL scouts evaluating his character — accusations of shoplifting, and that he shouted an obscene slogan in the school’s student union.
On the field, Winston’s stock was not helped by a less than stellar performance in the Rose Bowl when Florida State was steamrolled by Oregon 59-20, a debacle highlighted — or lowlighted — by Winston’s comical fumble which led to an Oregon touchdown.
So when a photograph went viral online Saturday showing a shirtless Winston sporting what appeared to be a pot belly hanging over his beltline, rumors instantly spread that the top draft prospect had let himself go over the past six weeks.
Here’s that photo, as it appeared on Twitter.
Jameis looks out of shape. pic.twitter.com/QMlKdDviwG
— Captain Obvious (@HashtagObvious) February 14, 2015
Any NFL scout looking at a 21-year-old with what appears to be an ample beer gut would be understandably alarmed. But according to Winston’s current personal coach, George Whitfield, the photo has a perfectly innocent explanation.
In fact, Winston told the USA Today Big Lead site, the viral photograph of the “fat” Jamies Winston is actually a month old.
“The photo of Jameis was taken in early-mid January,” Whitfield told the site. “If people are saying he looks out of shape – well, did they notice he had the leash tight around his waist? That may have had something to do with it. Jameis is in shape and doing great. Anyone saying he’s out of shape, they can check him out at the Combine this week.”
Winston, like dozens of other top NFL prospects and hopefuls, will attend the NFL Scouting Combine that runs Tuesday, February 17, through February 23, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
At the Combine, players get their final — and in the case of some longshots, their first — chance to showcase their skills for NFL teams.
Winston is expected to be selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the first overall pick on April 30, after the Bucs released their starting quarterback, Josh McCown.
But former Oregon quarterback, Marcus Mariotta, who got the better of Jameis Winston in the Rose Bowl game, could surpass his Rose Bowl rival, knocking Winston down in the draft.
[Image: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images]