Tampa, Fla.--Looking for some help on the outside at the wide receiver position, the Auburn Tigers added another weapon to the fold on Monday when H.B. Plant standout Derek Winter committed to the Tigers over Virginia, Illinois, South Florida, Iowa, Georgia Tech and several other schools.
"Derek has made a decision," Plant Coach Robert Weiner says. "He is committed to Auburn."
Earning the Guy Toph Trophy as the Tampa area Player of the Year as a senior after catching 75 passes for 1,668 and 18 touchdowns, Winter became a hot commodity late in the recruiting game. With the size (6-1, 196) to be a physical receiver on the next level, Winter is a player that could play early says Plant Coach Robert Weiner.
"You talk about guys who are total and complete at their position and he really is," Weiner says. "He's able to do it all for us. He was able to catch balls at all three levels, deep, intermediate, and short routes. Sometimes people question his speed a little bit, but he's actually one of the faster football players in terms of actual play on the field that I've ever coached.
"He's the quickest guy from the catch to the turn on a simple quick hitch," he adds. "We probably completed in his career 30 quick hitches and I don't think he's ever had less than 15 yards on a five-yard route. He's so quick to turn it up. He's a tremendous route runner. He's incredibly smart on the field. He's very, very athletic. He played corner for us also. He's able to go up and get 50/50 balls."
Changing to the spread offense under new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, Auburn will now have four or five receivers on the field at times. That makes for more chances for receivers to make plays against defenses trying to give them different looks. Weiner says that's something Winter shines at because of his football smarts and tough play.
"He's a guy that fits really well into a spread offense because teams have to play different defenses against a spread offense," Weiner says. "He's a guy that can adjust to different defenses really well. He's equally adept at running through man as he is squatting in a zone. He's a tremendous player. You get a complete player."
For his career Winter has been as good as any wide receiver in the country. In three-plus seasons Winter caught 192 passes for over 4,000 yards and 44 touchdowns for Plant High. Weiner says it's not only about putting up numbers for Winter though, it's about a winning attitude that he'll carry with him to Auburn.
"He has not only been productive, he's been productive in the big moments too," Weiner says. "We've had a lot of great moments at our school the time he's been here. We're 26-2 the past two years and won the state championship two years ago. In his time the teams have been 41-5 in his four years. That's pretty impressive. There's no mistake that happens with a guy like him on the field."