GREENSBORO, N.C. — Jameis Winston wants to look to the season ahead as the Heisman Trophy-winning QB for reigning national champion Florida State. He also knows he has to answer questions about his off-field conduct.
"I understand the spotlight," Winston said Sunday on the first of the ACC's two-day preseason kickoff event. "I understand what it is to be a leader and I'm bettering myself every single day to hold myself to that standard that everyone views me as, you know? Because I'm on a pedestal. Other players don't get the privilege of being on that pedestal."
Winston was investigated for sexual assault during last season. A prosecutor in Tallahassee decided in December not to charge him. Then in April, he was cited for walking out of a supermarket without paying for crab legs and crawfish.
He did not address specifics of the incident Sunday during an hour-long interview session that had about 60 reporters crowded around his table. Instead, he focused on working to become a better leader and player with the support of family, teammates and coaches.
"I have a certain standard that I've got to hold myself up to, and if I go even an inch below that standard, it's going to be chaos."
Asked if it was a difficult lesson, Winston said, "It wasn't difficult at all because you learn from your mistakes in this world. I learned from my mistakes, I fixed it and I moved on into preparing for this season."
NO. 1 SECONDARY: Seminoles CB P.J. Williams, defensive MVP of the BCS championship game, did not mince words when asked if he was part of the nation's top secondary.
"We pride ourselves on being the best defensive backfield in the country," Williams said. "We work hard every day to get better. We all go hard. We have some great young players, great starters, everybody can play. Everybody has experience pretty much and we pride ourselves on being the best defensive backs in the country."
FSU returns three starters — Williams, CB Ronald Darby and CB/S Jalen Ramsey — from a group that led the country in passing defense (156.6 yards allowed per game).
AUTONOMY TALK: ACC commissioner John Swofford said he's confident the NCAA will pass a proposal that will allow the five power conferences to make some of their own rules. He said it "largely gives the power five conferences what we have been asking for" and will keep those schools "under what we call the big tent of the NCAA." Under the proposal, the ACC, SEC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 would have autonomy to make their own bylaws.