As part of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston's appearance at Melrose Elementary in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, he took questions from a panel of five young journalists from the "Manatee Messenger," the school's student paper. The kids came up with some fun questions that yielded some insightful and even newsy answers from Winston:
-- Winston said he's taking classes online this spring to get closer to earning his degree from Florida State. He took some last summer and is doing so in spring and summer this year -- he later said he's still about 26 credit-hours short of his degree, but committed to getting it.
"I'm taking classes right now. I'm focusing on graduating college. That's a big accomplishment," Winston told the students. "I've got to get my mama that degree. How many of you are going to get your mama that degree?"
-- Winston had a bad misstep ("a poor word choice," he admitted) in what Tom Jones wrote about in today's paper, but it's important to reiterate that most of what he said was on point in giving the students -- boys and girls -- a positive message about believing in themselves.
"I was in the third grade. I was in the fourth grade. I was in the fifth grade, and I was just like you all. I wanted to be great," Winston said early in his 20-minute talk. "How many people want to be great today? Say it out loud. I want to be great. (students repeat) You have to mean that. You have to mean that, because you all can be great. You all can be successful."
-- Winston is again working out with trainer Tim Grover, who played a key part in his offseason transformation last year. Grover, who has worked with NBA superstars like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, was in attendance at Melrose and got a shoutout from Winston during his talk. "There's my personal trainer," Winston said. "I've been working out all day."
-- Winston told the students he reads at least one hour a day. "I start off my day by reading the Bible, every single morning," he said. "My girlfriend gets mad at me for getting up at 4:20, waking her up out of her sleep to read. Nah, she doesn't get mad at me. She thinks it's a pretty good practice. How many people do you know get up at 4:20?"
Asked later what else he's read recently, Winston pointed to "All In," a motivational book about living a life of faith, and "The Kaizen Way," a book about a Japanese approach to life that explains "the art of making great and lasting change through small, steady steps."
-- Asked who his biggest mentor in life was, Winston pointed to R.V. Brown, an evangelist and founder of Outreach to America's Youth Inc. who lives in Tampa and reached out to Winston when he was in college. "R.V. Brown changed my life. He showed me God from a different perspective," Winston said. "That was one of my key mentor, because God is the ultimate mentor."
-- Asked his favorite subject in school, Winston said it was math, drawing cheers from the students. "Oh, my God, so many math lovers," Winston said. "All the way through elementary, I'd get laughed at. I was kind of a cool kid, I'd be good at football and stuff, but I was smart. You should not be afraid to be smart. Being smart will help you get to where I am now." Winston said he made all A's in school until 10th grade. "My teacher, she was tripping. I don't even know why she gave me that B," he said. "It was an 89.5. Aren't you supposed to round those up? But math helped me out."
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-- Asked about his favorite players: "I love all the quarterbacks in the NFL. Tom Brady is one of my favorite players. Peyton Manning is one of my favorite players. Peyton Manning retired, but Tom Brady, I love Tom Brady. He's got five Super Bowls. I want to win that one day, right? Don't everybody like five Super Bowls? OK, listen, I want you to help me out right now. Y'all are going to help my confidence. I'm feeling kind of down. Y'all say 'Jameis, you're going to win seven Super Bowls.' (students repeat) I appreciate that. I believe I'm doing to do that."