CoolHandLukes

BCS Title Tilt with an Added Twist

CraigDameyune Craig left Florida State to return to his alma mater, leaving behind a potential national championship contender and Heisman Trophy quarterback in Jameis Winston. It’s not hard to see why he said no to Auburn the first time they offered.

Dameyune Craig coming to Auburn helped the Tigers get Nick Marshall and develop their receivers.

Talent and future success aren’t what made the choice so hard. His relationship with Winston, the quarterback he was responsible for bringing to Tallahassee was the real reason. Craig served as a mentor, a father figure and a friend to the Seminoles’ redshirt freshman quarterback.

Winston #2Craig was a big part of the reason why Winston came to Florida State in the first place. Even to the point of phone calls in the morning, telling him about a dream he may have had, giving him advice on what he thought he should or shouldn’t do, and ensuring Winston stayed on the right path.

Starting back when Winston was a sophomore in high school, they began cultivating a relationship of trust. Craig, recently made the new quarterbacks coach at Florida State, didn’t take long in making Winston a recruiting priority.

Craig could relate to Winston. He was a star quarterback from the state of Alabama as well, setting numerous passing records at Auburn, including completions (216) and passing yards (3,227) in a single season. He led the Tigers to 10 wins in 1997 and he was who Winston wanted to be at the next level.

After speaking with Craig and meeting his family, Winston idolizes who he is, wishing to be like him when he grows older.

Craig was willing to break down barriers with Winston and his family as well, making an impact on his family as well. He was the first recruiter to bypass the high school coach and talk directly with Jameis’ father, Antonor Winston. As a mentor, Dameyune understood Jameis, saying things that nobody would think about saying about Jameis, and it ended up happening.

According to Antonor, Craig told his son that if Jameis went to Auburn, he would start as a true freshman. At Alabama, he would take AJ McCarron’s spot, ticking off quite a few people. But at Florida State, he could redshirt his first year, learn from future NFL quarterback EJ Manuel and even focus on his baseball career. That’s what the family wanted to hear. It was a win-win situation. So Winston, the No. 1 quarterback and No. 14 prospect in the 2012 ESPN 300, signed with the Seminoles.

Given all that however, Craig is often an unsung hero for bring Winston to FSU, according to Antonor Given their relationship, Jameis knew leaving home, Dameyune was going to make him stay on track. Through all the schools recruiters, it was evident nobody came in and cared about Jameis’ well-being the way Craig did.

So Jameis redshirted his first year with football. In the spring, he started 30 games for the baseball team and ended up reaching the super regionals. This season, with expectations high, he took over as Florida State’s starting quarterback and led the Seminoles to an undefeated season and a spot in the VIZIO BCS National Championship. The only downside? Craig wasn’t there to be a part of it. His leaving after
Winston’s freshman year was a difficult decision for Winston and his family.

Although the decision was difficult for Winston, he didn’t really express it. The hardest part of the situation for the freshman quarterback was the unexpected nature of the call. Having spoken to Craig about it, it was apparent that Craig had made the right choice for himself, and expressed his support the whole way.

Little did Winston know, he’d be going against his former mentor and coach in Monday’s national championship game.

The decision to leave Florida State for Auburn worked out for Craig, too. While he’s working with the wide receivers now, he helped recruit quarterback Nick Marshall, a crucial part of the Tigers’ miracle season. The two have already bonded similarly to how Craig is with Winston.

However, Winston and his family will always have a special place in Craig’s heart. It’s the reason Craig was mentioned in Winston’s Heisman Trophy speech, and even the reason Winston deleted Craig’s number from his phone afraid he’d might call his former coach, the very same reason why Monday’s game won’t affect their relationship. Neither are focusing on beating the other, rather on just simply winning the game. Win or lose their relationship will not be affected with a mutual joy for the winner from the loser’s side.