It may be a while before Jameis Winston returns to Hueytown, but the town is not wasting time letting folks know how they feel about "Famous Jameis."
"There's somebody out there that's putting out city on the map. That's what I'm happy about," said Jontaye Samuels.
Samuels says he got to know Winston while giving him and other Hueytown football players haircuts at his shop. When Winston struggled against Auburn in the first of half of the national championship game, he didn't panic.
"For one, he's playing an SEC team, so he's finally being tested. That's what I thought. But knowing him, he's a strong guy. I knew he'd get through with it," said Samuels.
"I knew he was going to struggle, but I knew he was going to win at the same time. Because we always say you're going to mess up, but you have to stay at it," said Brandon Hester Jr.
Hester and Breon Owens say they grew up with and played with Winston too often to believe their confident and upbeat friend would not come back.
"Once I saw him praying, I knew he was going to pull it through," said Hester.
Still, when Winston threw the pass that sealed the championship, some couldn't hold back.
"My wife was in the bed asleep. I ended up almost knocking her off the bed thinking about it," said Samuels.
Hester says he had to turn off his phone because so many people wanted Winston's number. The Lawson State basketball player says he did turn it back on in time to text Winston and share a brief phone conversation.
"I just told him ‘congratulations.' He was like ‘thank you, little bro. Just stay at it. Just stay at it,'" said Hester.
Hester and Owens did not want to talk about tweets that suggested Winston was less than articulate in his post-game interviews.
There's always going to be somebody out there to hate on him. But how can you hate on somebody who's been doing so good? What is there to hate on?" said Owen.
Owens says he believes even if Winston enjoys the pro career many are now projecting. He expects his friend won't forget Hueytown and will have plenty to say when he returns.
"I think he'll come back and maybe, like, talk to the schools. You know, try to talk to younger people trying to get where he's been, trying to get on the level he is," said Owens. "I think he'll come back. I know he'll come back."
While Winston is enjoying so much success as a football player, Owens says he looks forward to Florida State's baseball season and reminds us it is possible Winston could wind up playing Major League Baseball as well.
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