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December 13, 2013

Winston talks investigation at Heisman PC

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NEW YORK - Jameis Winston got the question.

In the pre-ceremony Heisman press conference, Winston was finally asked about the three-week sexual assault investigation that became a very public sideshow for the last part of the regular season. FSU's redshirt freshman quarterback was not charged, but the investigation did generate controversy with Heisman voters.

When asked about the past few weeks on Friday, Winston had the following answer.

"I always respected the process," he said. "So by me being a football player and knowing that my team needed me, by them supporting me, I knew I had to focus on the future. But I also had to focus on my family with everything that was going on with the investigation. I knew I did nothing wrong. I knew I could respect the process and knowing that I would eventually be vindicated. So it was more about me being silent for my family. Because I didn't want to put my family in that situation."

Winston was originally pulled from the interview room early after a series of questions related to the investigation. He returned after a brief break and Florida State Sports Information said his early exit was a simple miscommunication.

It's the first time Winston's been able to speak so openly about the investigation, and about how it's affected him. In repeated questions, the 19-year old repeated that he knew he'd done nothing wrong. That came just hours after Patricia Carroll, the attorney for the accuser in the investigation, held a lengthy press conference of her own blasting the Tallahassee Police Department's handling of the case.

Winston said the process has been stressful, but said he's been glad for the support from both his teammates and former FSU players. He said former FSU Heisman winner Charlie Ward has frequently sent him Bible verses for motivation. Winston even said he talked to last year's winner and a finalist this year, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, for some advice as to how to handle the hoopla surrounding the Heisman weekend.

"I asked him a few questions, but one thing about Johnny Football, he's so genuine, he's so chill and laid back," Winston said. "You would think this guy, he's never done it before. Obviously I want to try to ask him, 'Hey, what happened' because I'm curious just like everyone else. But the main thing he told me, 'Just enjoy the moment.' And that's what I plan on doing."

Regardless of how he answered questions on Friday, Winston remains the favorite to win the Heisman trophy on Saturday night. He did say that he hasn't planned a potential speech if he wins.

"I haven't discussed it with (FSU Sports Information Director Kerwin Lonzo) back here yet, but I'm going to be so overwhelmed," Winston said. "It's going to be such a privilege, so I'm going to look forward to tomorrow evening."

Investigation questions weren't the only things that Winston talked about on Friday. He said he's taken Auburn running back Tre Mason and his family out to dinner in hopes that Mason would take it easy on FSU in the BCS National Title, that he wants to continue to play baseball and football - and be better than Bo Jackson - and that this is his first time in New York since a visit as a young child.

But questions continued to circle back to the investigation and what it might mean for the Heisman. When asked about his character, Winston said the following:

"Everything I do, and every way I carry myself, is a form of character," Winston said. "My parents brought me up right. So I'm always going to be myself no matter what is going on, no matter what's happening. I've got to be myself."

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