There were two questions that a national audience was asking after Jameis Winston kept Florida State's national championship bid on track on Saturday.
"How is this freshman so good?"
And … "What is he squinting at?"
The 19-year-old redshirt freshman quarterback led the third-ranked Seminoles to a 41-14 blowout of No. 7 Miami to boost the team's BCS title aspirations and his own Heisman Trophy credentials.
As he did so, he unwittingly spawned a series of GIFs and Twitter comments, with a country-wide audience immediately picking up on his habit for squinting towards the sidelines in between each play.
Given that Winston appeared to be straining to see the play calls from the Seminoles sideline, it seemed extraordinary that he could effectively identify receivers downfield as the team yet again topped 40 points in collecting its eighth straight victory.
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FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher cleared up the confusion in his Monday press conference.
"[Winston] has contacts but he doesn't like wearing them," Fisher said. "He has a very minimal prescription, I guess. It is just at night he has a hard time with the lights sometimes. He sees; he's fine. [The squint] is just the way he looks over there."
Florida State officials have thoroughly evaluated Winston's eyesight and have no concerns about his ability to read the action on the field, even at night. Considering how he has stepped into the shoes of E.J. Manuel (a first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills) and spearheaded the Seminoles' superb season so far, that is little surprise.
Interestingly, Winston does wear his contacts during baseball season, when he pitches and plays right field for FSU.
"It is a different game," Fisher said. "The contacts … they get knocked out, they get loose. Sometimes he [wears them], sometimes he doesn't in baseball, I guess. In football he doesn't like it, but it has never been a factor."
Winston appeared to put the subject to rest late in the day Monday when Orsillo Vision Care and Optical in Tallahassee, Fla., posted a photo of the quarterback on its Facebook page after he was fitted for Ortho-K lenses.
If that route doesn't pan out for Winston, he may benefit from a special form of laser eye surgery specifically geared towards athletes in combat sports and members of the military special forces., according to Dr. Cary Silverman, an eye specialist in East Hannover, N.J., who has treated several members of the United States summer and winter Olympic teams.
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"Many athletes steer clear of conventional LASIK treatments," Silverman said. "Normal LASIK involves opening a flap in the cornea. In situations of heavy contact, the flap can become loose and this is a concern for some athletes."
An alternative lies in PRK treatment, where the treatment is made to the surface of the eye and no flap is opened. Silverman said that Winston – provided that his prescription strength had not altered over the past 12 months – would likely be eligible for such a treatment since he is over the age of 18.
"Imagine how good he would be if he could see," quipped Fisher.