EJ Manuel leaves a complicated legacy behind him at Florida State.
As a transitional player it's hard to argue Manuel wasn't excellent for FSU. He entered the program with plenty of clout and left it better off than he found it.
Remember where Florida State was when EJ Manuel got there. The Bowden era was coming to an unceremonious end, the talent on the team had declined and a once proud program was slowly sinking into the quicksand of college football parity.
Heck, EJ had to practically win out -- allowing for an obvious loss to Tim Tebow's Gators -- after replacing an injured Christian Ponder during his redshirt freshman year just to send Bowden out a winner in his final season. Manuel's Gator Bowl performance (in which he went 17/24 for 189 yards and lead FSU to a 33-21 victory over West Virginia) is still amongst his best moments at FSU.
Three years later Manuel was selected 16th overall in the NFL draft after going 12-2 and winning an Orange Bowl in his senior season. Along the way FSU had moved back up from ACC also-rans (which they were for about seven years) and reclaimed their place atop the conference.
That's not too shabby.
Unfortunately for Manuel the guy that followed him isn't doing his legacy any favors.
All EJ did last year was win 12 games in a season for the third time ever at FSU, win a conference title and earn just the second BCS victory in Florida State history. He had a career-high 23 touchdowns last season. He was the first quarterback taken in the draft.
The same will likely be said of his successor too.
It took Jameis Winston just seven games -- half a season -- to throw as many touchdowns as EJ Manuel did in 14 games last year.
Winston's performance through seven games has been jaw-dropping. He's completed just a hair under 70 percent of his passes (128/183, 69.9%) for 2,177 yards and 23 touchdowns. His name has become a fixture on Heisman watchlists.
Assuming FSU plays two extra games this year (ACC Championship and a bowl game) Winston is on pace for 4,354 yards and 46 touchdowns. To give you perspective, only one passer in FSU's history has ever thrown for 4,000 yards in a season. That was Chris Weinke in 2000. He did it in 13 games. Winston has a shot at that mark, but a lot will depend on how long he's left in ballgames through the remainder of the season.
FSU has several tilts with overmatched opponents -- Wake Forest, Syracuse, Idaho -- left on their schedule and it's not likely that Winston plays deep into those games. That could make topping the yardage mark a bit tougher.
The record that probably will fall this year though is for passing touchdowns in a season. That mark is also held by Weinke who threw for 33 in 2000. Winston is already within ten and has seven more games to get there.
Through half a season Winston is already tied for ninth all-time at FSU for passing touchdowns in a year. Charlie Ward's best was 27, only Weinke and Danny Kanell have ever hurled 30 or more.
By the end of the season Winston will likely have topped them all.
In fact, it's possible at the end of his redshirt freshman year that Winston will have already rewritten the Florida State record books.
If anything, EJ Manuel -- who served as Winston's mentor last season -- can probably take solace in the fact that Winston isn't just outdoing him. Winston is on pace to out-do everybody who has ever played quarterback at FSU. That includes two Heisman winners, several first round draft picks and a Super Bowl winning QB.
Even Bobby Bowden said during yesterday's 49-17 win over NC State that Florida State's redshirt freshman signal caller might be the best to ever play at FSU.
And the scary part for the rest of the country?
Winston's best days are still ahead of him.
"I thought he played pretty well, I don't think he played great." said Jimbo Fisher yesterday, after Winston went 11/14 for 229 yards and three touchdowns in the first quarter alone. The game was over almost as quickly as it started. Winston played one series in the third quarter before taking the afternoon off. He finished the day with 292 yards passing and the Seminoles ahead 42-0.
"He keeps trying to make some big ones -- which he did -- he played really well early, made his deep balls and made some great throws and plays there," said Fisher, who's last three starting QB's were all selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. "But there are still some things I think he needs to clean up a little bit. I really do."
Winston echoed that sentiment during his post-game comments, saying that there was plenty to clean up, that he had a lot to work on. So much, in fact, that Winston doesn't have time to pay attention touchdown marks and yardage totals.
Asked about the prospect of breaking some of the most sacred records at FSU, Winston didn't seem too interested.
“I’m just focused on playing Miami next week," he said.
For all the latest Florida State news and updates, follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...Follow @PatrikNohe_MH