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July 21, 2011

Winston will face tough decision soon

MORE ELITE 11: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday

MALIBU, Calif. - Jameis Winston has been so good this week at the Elite 11 that it's hard to believe he might choose against playing college football.

Thing is, he's one heck of a baseball player, too.

Similar to two-sport stud Bubba Starling of Gardner, Kan., in the last recruiting class, Winston believes he could be taken in the early rounds of the Major League Baseball draft (Starling went fifth overall to the Royals last month) and that will leave Winston with a difficult decision: football or baseball? It's the same decision Starling, who has committed to Nebraska to play QB, is facing now.

"I'm just taking it slow," Winston said Wednesday at the Elite 11 at Pepperdine. "Baseball is one of my loves just like football, but football is my passion. The draft is obviously coming around but I'm just taking my time with it. Right now I'm just worried about football and being at this camp.

"I'm going to prepare for it. After football season is finished I'm going to strictly focus on baseball. It's going to be all baseball. That's when I'm going to be preparing with my family and saying we have this and this and that. I'm going to be ready."

First, the Hueytown, Ala., four-star prospect - ranked as the top dual-threat quarterback by Rivals.com - must announce which college football program will land his commitment.

Winston said earlier this week that he has already picked a school and he will make his decision known on Aug. 3. Alabama, Florida State and LSU are the three finalists for Winston, arguably the top quarterback through three days at the Elite 11. Because baseball might be Winston's future, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound recruit said he's perfectly fine with any of those three programs taking a second quarterback in this class as long as the coaches are upfront about their plans.

"That's why the school I'm going to is probably going to take two quarterbacks," Winston said. "It's not going to be a big deal. I don't have a problem with them taking two quarterbacks as long as they let me know and not tell me I'm the only guy.

"I don't have a problem with it because at the end of the day you have to compete anyway. If they don't take two quarterbacks they're going to recruit another quarterback the next class. That's the whole recruiting process. I just want them to be real. I don't want lies. There is no need for them. This is my life."

As Starling dealt with the decision between college football or professional baseball, Winston kept a close eye on it especially because the four-star knew he'd be involved with a similar situation.

Winston's prediction is that Starling ends up playing college football - holding off on any baseball career - but promises Starling's decision won't influence his own in the long run.

"I followed him," Winston said. "He got picked and he's still deciding whether he's going to go pro or play college football but I think he's going to play college. I don't think he's going to go pro. He can only get better. It's a big decision but it's hard to turn down money like that though."

Winston, first in the Alabama state rankings and No. 52 in the 2012 class, predicts he will get drafted somewhere between the first and fifth rounds but has not done a tremendous amount of research on it yet. His baseball position is still up in the air, but he said pitcher or outfield is most likely.

The prospect is so cool and collected he doesn't seem bothered by much - even when people claim he's just a baseball player trying to play football.

"I don't get mad," Winston said.

No reason to be upset. Winston has a bright future either way and after his outstanding performance for three days at the Elite 11, he could easily be moving up higher on the Rivals.com rankings.

"I'm not really worried about rankings and stuff," he said. "It's a blessing, but there are a lot of great quarterbacks out here."

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