ARLINGTON — Jameis Winston is likely the most polarizing college football player in the nation.
Combine his well-documented offseason missteps with a return run for another Heisman Trophy and national championship, and it makes sense why the spotlight is on the Florida State sophomore quarterback.
And Winston will undoubtedly be the focus of Oklahoma State’s defense tonight at 7 inside AT&T Stadium for the season opener.
But the Seminoles are defined by much more than just Winston.
Get to know five FSU players who don’t play quarterback for the FSU, but figure to play key roles tonight against the Cowboys.
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9 • RB KARLOS WILLIAMS / 6-1, 225 / SR
The impact: Despite Winston’s dazzling abilities, the Seminoles’ were a run-first team last season (505 rushes vs. 442 pass attempts). FSU’s leading rusher from a season ago, Devonta Freeman, bypassed his senior season for the NFL. But Williams fits the mold to pick up where Freeman left off. Williams, a converted safety, is a powerful runner with breakaway speed.
The 2013 stats: 91 carries, 731 yards, 11 touchdowns.
The quote: “He’s being consistent in everything he’s doing. He’ll make a mistake here and there like everybody does. But he’s really locked in, his leadership, his maturity. I just like everything I see.” — FSU coach Jimbo Fisher
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80 • WR RASHAD GREENE / 6-0, 180 / SR
The impact: Of all the FSU position groups, wide receiver is the most unknown as two sophomores and three freshmen are in the mix for playing time. But there’s no question about Greene’s abilities. He was the Seminoles’ leading receiver last year, ahead of first-round 2014 NFL Draft pick Kelvin Benjamin. Greene is among the most productive FSU wideouts in school history.
The 2013 stats: 76 catches, 1,128 yards, 9 touchdowns.
The quote: “He’s extremely respected. He’s a team guy, he’s a team leader, and shows it in everything he does. It’s very rare.” — FSU coach Jimbo Fisher
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75 • LT CAMERON ERVING / 6-6, 308 / SR
The impact: Offensive linemen aren’t usually individual spotlight players, but Erving isn’t your usual offensive lineman. Among five seniors on the line, he’s projected as the best in terms of NFL potential. His combination of size and strength is perfect for stopping edge rushers from getting to Winston.
The quote: “Well, our offensive line is the best offensive line in the country, and I repeat that Florida State’s offensive line is the best offensive line in the country.” — FSU quarterback Jameis Winston
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15 • DE MARIO EDWARDS JR. / 6-3, 294 / JR
The impact: Edwards is the the kind of hybrid defensive end/linebacker that gives quarterbacks nightmares, though his statistics last season don’t jump off the page. But with the departure of a number of top tacklers from 2013, he’s primed for a monster year and likely a spot high on many NFL draft boards.
The 2013 stats: 28 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 interception.
The quote: “A lot of people look at me and expect me to be kind of slow or stiff,. Then when they actually watch film and they see you out there playing, they’re actually kind of shocked about it.” — Edwards
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26 • CB P.J. WILLIAMS / 6-0, 196 / JR
The impact: The Seminoles led the nation in pass defense last season, racking up a school-record 26 interceptions. So it’s no surprise that Williams returns this year as a preseason All-American and projected first-round draft pick. Williams was the Seminoles’ defensive MVP in the national championship game against Auburn with a career-high 7 tackles and an interception.
The 2013 stats: 35 tackles, 3 interceptions, 10 pass deflections.
The quote: “We know we got the target on our back. Knowing that we’re going to get everybody’s best game, we know we have to step it up and not slack off.” — Williams