Heisman Trophy winner Winston smiles, shines in the spotlight

Florida State's Jameis Winston answers a question during a news conference at the Atlantic Coast Conference Football kickoff in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Before any of the 100 or so reporters had a chance to fire away - in fact, Jameis Winston's rump hadn't even settled in his chair - the reigning Heisman Trophy winner had a request of his own for the media masses.

"Before I say anything," Winston said, "how does it feel to have an ACC team come in here with a national championship, y'all? Can we give the ACC a round of applause please?"

Then Winston clapped his hands, eliciting chuckles from reporters who couldn't join him in applause but obliged with laughter.

Finally, the relaxed Winston closed his opening statement: "Finally, we took it away from the SEC, man. It's a blessing."

The tone was set. Despite all the turmoil Winston has faced off the field since reaching notoriety - the rape investigation plaguing his November, the FSU-Florida baseball dustup in March and the Publix crab legs theft in May - the Seminoles' sophomore refused to let the controversy cloud his smile and charm.

"I learned from my mistakes. I fixed it," Winston said. "And I moved on to prepare for this season.

"As a leader, you have to accept a role and you have to live up to it," Winston said. "That's one thing I learned from this past season; I know I'm in the spotlight, and I know I've got these guys depending on me, I've got coach (Jimbo) Fisher depending on me. Most importantly, I've got my family depending on me."

While the media got minimal answers about his past indiscretions, Winston brightened the room with his effusive personality, answering each question in earnest about his life in the past 12 months.

"It hasn't changed. I've probably been more in the spotlight, but I still do my daily routines, go out there and grind with my teammates," Winston said. "But as an individual trying to get better every single day, I know I have to be able to live up to that hype everywhere I go.

"I don't have a problem with the spotlight. Because I want to be in that situation."

Winston went so far to say he'd prefer to take on the attention, trusting in himself to handle the hype so his teammates could be there to support him and not deal with the hubbub themselves.

"He never got cocky or anything like that," FSU cornerback P.J. Williams said. "He works hard every day, so I think he handled it pretty well."

Soon, Florida State will set out to defend its crown against what appears to be a manageable schedule. The Seminoles take on Oklahoma State in Dallas to open 2014, and get Clemson, Notre Dame and Florida at home at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee with trips to Louisville and Miami.

"We're starting over now. Clean slate," Winston said. "We're not really worried about defending the national championship. We're worried about getting another one."

While Williams said he never saw teammates rest on their laurels, Winston admitted some Seminoles dabbled in contentment this past offeseason.

"Yeah, we see guys do that. But as leaders, we're not getting complacent," Winston said. "We know we have a job at hand."

After his one-hour meeting with writers, Winston stood and walked over toward North Carolina's podium, where Winston's friend and UNC quarterback Marquise Williams was holding court.

Winston did a shimmy-shake dance, bring a smile to Williams' face. If the scrutiny has gotten to Winston, he refused to show it.