BEYOND THE COMMITMENT: Scouting Winchester

Jeremy Winchester may not have grown up playing cornerback, but he's been preparing for it all his life, as we break down just what Cal's newest commit brings to the table. Winchester opens up about playing defense, running track and ... Daniel Lasco?

Jeremy Winchester is fast. California's latest defensive back commit was not only first-team all-district as a corner/safety as a junior, but in the spring, he clocked the 24th-fastest 110-meter hurdle time in the nation, coming in third during the Texas 5A State Championships with a 13.97-second run.

In the 300m hurdles, Winchester clocked a 37.61-second time in the Texas 5A Area meet, coming in first with the 49th-fastest time in the nation and the 10th best in the state of Texas that season.

As fast as he is, it's no wonder that he had spent most of his life as a running back. In fact, there's one current Golden Bear in particular who he holds in high esteem because of his years toting the rock.

"Honestly, considering the position I came from, I looked up to Daniel Lasco," says Winchester, who knows Lasco through Boise State wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes. "He was amazing to me. Just to know that I'll be going to the exact same place he was going to was a bonus, and the people that are in Texas right now that are committed, I know a couple of them, and I'm going to most likely get to know a couple of the other ones that I already knew of. It's pretty exciting. I feel like I won't be there alone."

Two years ago, Winchester posted a 37-inch standing vertical leap. He hasn't been tested since, but this spring, he cleared 6'4" in the high jump, leaped 22'8" in the long jump and 47'10" in the triple jump. Besides his best events – the hurdles – he's also clocked a 10.7-second 100m time, a 48-second 300 and a 21-second 200.

Any questions about whether his hips are loose enough to play corner go straight out the window after watching him run. While spending most of the spring on the track instead of the football field may have kept him a secret in the recruiting world, he considers his time spent there as a huge benefit.

"I take pride in everything in track that I have as football attributes," Winchester says. "I feel like it all blends in together with the position that I've been playing, as of a year ago. Flexibility, agility, acceleration to the first hurdle, it all plays together, in some way, being able to drive to the ball when you see the pass being thrown. I've really been playing cornerback before I even knew I was."

Until last fall, Winchester had never played a single down of defense. He spent his first two years at Spring (Tex.) Klein Collins as a running back.

"My first time ever tackling a person was last year, the opening game of the season," Winchester says. "Before that, I was always on offense, and I had never played a down of defense in my life. I played running back my freshman year, running back my sophomore year, and I was transitioning to wide receiver, and coach [Drew] Svoboda, my head coach, decided to move me to cornerback, and I started the whole season. That's how the story began."

At 6-foot, 175 pounds, Winchester is deceptively strong. Doing more than one sport, Winchester says he's "limited" in what he can get done in the weight room, but he's still put up 220 pounds in the bench press (up 20 pounds since his last max) and squats 315.

After he got that first tackle out of the way, Winchester went on to record over 50 more, and turned in his first pick.

"When it comes to Winchester, if I was only given one sentence it would read that he is a cornerback playing with a safety mentality," says Midlands recruiting analyst Ahmard Vital. "He stands about 6-foot and weighs about 180 pounds, but plays more like a strong safety. He will come up in the run game and get involved. There is not a lot of finesse in his game."

The Bears see Winchester as a cornerback, and, thanks to some lengthy talks with defensive backs coach Randy Stewart, Winchester has a pretty good idea of how he'll be used. The first time the two spoke, it was for over an hour.

"Me and Randy Stewart, we've been getting into great detail on what to expect from me," Winchester says. "A lot of it is talking about me coming in early, and making an impact early in the season as a corner. They like my length, they like my speed. It's a win-win."

Winchester sees his biggest plus on the field as his efficiency. The fact that he was named to the first-team all-district in just his first year shows just how quick a study he is.

"I'm still learning," says Winchester, "but, at the same time, I'm able to get the job done and elevate my game every single day I'm out there. I'm getting just as good as other kids out there, who have been playing this position their whole lives. The sky's the limit. I feel like my efficiency, and knowing that I can get the job done is my biggest attribute."

Both the Cal coaching staff and those who have seen him in person tend to agree.

"In coverage, he is one who can go stride-for-stride with the best receivers," says Vital. "He has great vision and timing in knowing when to make his breaks and is physical at the line of scrimmage when in press coverage. He is a player who can be placed on an island and can hold his own."

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