Former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has had to answer a lot of questions about off-field incidents he was involved in during his college career as the NFL draft approaches later this month.
But one of them, his citation for shoplifting approximately $32 worth of crab legs from a Tallahassee Publix last May, is not what it appears, he said — It wasn’t a theft, it was a hook-up.
In an appearance on ESPN’s “Draft Academy” program, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch encouraged the potential No. 1 overall pick to be open with NFL coaches and scouts about mistakes he’s made.
As part of that exchange, Winston asked how he should have handled the shoplifting incident when it was a situation where he “got them for free.”
Pressed by Harbaugh to explain, Winston said:
“Well, a week before it was my buddy’s birthday and we had got a cake and we met a dude that worked inside Publix and he said, ‘Hey, anytime you come in here, I got you.’ So that day we just walked out and he hooked us up with that.
“And when I came in to get crab legs, I did the same thing and he just gave them to me and I walked out. And someone from inside the store had told the security that I didn’t pay for them. And that’s how the whole thing started.”
Admitting this while he was still at Florida State would have likely been a minor Level III NCAA violation for Winston, but if other athletes were found to receive similar treatment, the situation could prove problematic for the Seminoles.
Winston had maintained throughout the ensuing investigation that he had forgotten to pay for the crab legs.
He was cited by the sheriff’s department, completed 20 hours of community service and was suspended by FSU baseball coach Mike Martin.
Winston is projected as the No. 1 pick in next week’s NFL Draft. He won the Heisman Trophy and led Florida State to the national championship as a freshman in 2013.