Sitting atop his piano at home, California cornerback commit Jeremy Winchester has an old, ratty notebook. It's not filled with daily musings or play diagrams. It's filled with poetry.
"I want to be a professor one day," says the Spring (Tex.) Klein Collins defender. "Obviously, it's a ways down the line, but I'm really into English literature. I've always been interested. My mother, all she's about is Language Arts, so reading and writing have always been her biggest attributes, and I have the same passion that she has."
Winchester's mother has three Masters degrees and an undergraduate degree from Nicholls State. She's been a star of the teaching profession ever since she started, and she expects nothing more from her son.
"She's really been almost everything. She's been assistant principal, principal, she's been a team leader her first year doing it," says Winchester. "When she was 23, she got Teacher of the Year that year. She has three Masters. She does everything."
When Winchester tells his peers that he wants to be an English professor, they look at him like he's crazy.
"They don't see it. They just see an athlete that got a scholarship and is just running with it, but I've always had these plans," he says. "I've never gone into anything without a plan. That's always been going my way. I know exactly what I want, no matter what school I was going to go to."
One of the biggest parts of his decision to commit to the Bears – a program nearly 2,000 miles away from home – was the fact that Berkeley has the No. 1 English department among all public schools in the world, and the No. 3 program of all schools in the United States – behind Harvard and Yale.
Every day, Winchester picks up that notebook and writes something.
"I feel like the only way you can truly tell a story is to be able to write," he says. "I get inspiration from things that people don't usually get it from."
There's even a little bit of Richard Castle in the 6-foot, 175-pound defensive back. He likes crime and detective novels, currently favoring John Grisham's The Chamber.
"It's a great book, and if you look it up, you wonder what kind of inspiration I could get from that book, because it's most definitely a thriller – a crime novel," he says. "That's the kind of stuff that inspires me. I just love to read and get another point of view from anything that I'm looking at."
That thoughtfulness and probing mind is partly what makes Winchester such a good football player. It's also what drove him to finally decide on Cal.
"Most definitely, my decision didn't come lightly," he says. "All my inspiration comes from my mom. My mom's a big part of everything that I do."
The education he'd get in Berkeley helped to sell his parents on that decision.
"That's my parents, so they're going to be a little bit shaky about me going almost 2,000 miles away, because they're a big part of my life, and, honestly, I'm a mama's boy, so the decision didn't come lightly, most definitely, but they knew where I was coming from," Winchester says. "They know that I never go into anything without thinking it through. They couldn't really go against me, and after a while, once they got a chance to speak to the coaches for themselves, they felt the exact same way that I did."
In just under three weeks, the New Orleans-born Winchester will get to travel with him to Cal for the Sept. 14 clash against Ohio State. With family in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Dallas, Tex., his official visit promises to be an eye-opener.
"The thing I'm looking forward to is getting in the atmosphere and knowing exactly where I'm going to be at for the next four or five years of my life, and being able to meet the teammates that are going to be a family for me," Winchester says. "I'm very excited about that."
He may even write a few verses, too.
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