But even at 18, Winston aspired to be more than a program-changer like Newton or any other quarterback of this generation has accomplished. He had an unbelievable dream that he maintains to this day.
He planned to be the next Bo Jackson. The next Deion Sanders. He didn't just want to be a two-sport pro athlete. He wanted to be the best in the game at two sports.
"To be honest with you, my mind is so big because I dream so big," Winston said. "I don't think about none of the little stuff. I think about playing with the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Falcons. Doing it big with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Philadelphia Eagles. Living the life."
His favorite quarterback growing up was Randall Cunningham, his favorite ballplayer Ken Griffey Jr. He wanted to be both of them. He still does.
The kid never lacked conviction. Winston knew this to be his destiny.
But destiny doesn't come without some doubters. Even in your own hometown.
"Haters," Winston calls them all. America knows this now, though for entirely different reasons and circumstances. Few things get Winston fired up more than feeling disrespected. But you don't know where that comes from.
Back home, Winston's personality didn't leave much room for middle ground for the locals, Hueytown football coach Matt Scott said. You either love him or you don't.
His cockiness was his strength and his weakness. What others called arrogance, Scott considered confidence.
"People want him to go out there and make those spectacular plays," he said. "What they don't like is sometimes that competitive spirit boils over. What they don't understand is, you can't get one without the other."
That misunderstanding bothered Winston throughout his high school years, and by January 2012, he was glad his time in Alabama was coming to an end.
He calls nearby Bessemer, Ala., the place he was born and raised. Hueytown, a suburb of Birmingham with 16,000 residents, just happens to be the city he put on the map.
"I just get no love from them. What's wrong with these people?" Winston said back then. "That's a big motivation. I'm doing all this stuff, and you can't give me no credit? Can't show me no love? Golly."
Winston didn't feel like the big man on campus at Hueytown. He'd admit he was impatient growing up and had a temper. He didn't always get along with teachers. Still, he and his parents believed jealously played a role in the rift.
"If I had to give you a percentage on our support, out of 100 percent, it might be 30 percent in Hueytown," said Antonor Winston, Jameis' father. "But we take that and we run with it."
He said he and wife Loretta watched several of their son's high school road games from the wrong bleachers. That's how strained the relationship had become. To them, it beat the alternative.
"We couldn't stand our fans," Antonor said. "We would rather sit on the other side with the people saying, 'Kill 'em! Get the quarterback! Tear him up!' than sit on our own side. Isn't that terrible? We actually enjoy ourselves on the visitors' side."
Jameis carried this burden throughout high school and struggled to understand it. Maybe he was too young to recognize the part he'd played. Dismissing it as hate was easier.
Winston was the most competitive player Scott has ever seen. That mentality got him this far, and he won't apologize for it. He never felt appreciated, yet he can't appreciate how Hueytown made him.