Hueytown, Ala., quarterback Jameis Winston put his signature on a letter of intent to Florida State this, with a minimum of fanfare or drama for arguably the most coveted quarterback prospect since Matt Barkley. In Winston's case, the drama was over a long time ago: He committed to FSU last August, stuck with the 'Noles as he shot up the rankings during his senior season and never wavered despite overtures from Alabama (he grew up less than an hour from Tuscaloosa) a late visit to Stanford and a few extra days to think about it due to an all-star game in Austin, Texas, that occupied his attention on signing day. Recruitniks didn't even bother manufacturing a potential controversy.
But his official addition to the fold is another reminder, as Florida State closes the books on another widely celebrated, top-10 haul — along with five-star defensive linemen Mario Edwards and Eddie Goldman, Winston gives the Seminoles three signees ranked among Rivals' top 10 players in the entire 2012 class — that the clock is still ticking on Jimbo Fisher's efforts to produce the proverbial chicken salad. After five years, five blue-chip recruiting classes and one sobering missed opportunity last fall, the achievement gap that defined the last decade of the Bowden era is as wide as ever.
And yet: As long as Florida State is signing the likes of Jameis Winston and Mario Edwards (and Karlos Williams, and James Wilder, and Christian Jones, and so on) on an annual basis, the question of a return to the top isn't "if," but "when." At some point, inscrutable laws of statistics and probability assure that the sheer quantity of first-rate talent must eventually break through the stupor. There is no reason that this year, or any of the next four after Winston takes the reins from incumbent E.J. Manuel, can't be the breakthrough. The question is, have we reached the point at which we need a compelling more reason to believe that it's not going to be another bust?