Each and every year thousands of high school football players work to fulfill their dream of becoming a college football player. For some, the journey seems like it never ends. For others, the journey brings thoughts of reality and questions about one's ability as a prospect. Dustin Winters is a great example of a prospect whose journey has seen thousands of miles of highway along with combines and camps in four states.
Bearcat Insider spoke with Dustin about his journey and what lies ahead for the ever so polite fullback from Gallia Academy High School, Gallipolis, Ohio.
Bearcat Insider first took notice of Dustin during the Scout.com Akron Combine held in late May. We then saw the compact built Winters during the recent Coach Dantonio Football Camp held at Colerain High School just a couple of weeks ago. While Dustin worked to impress any coach who would take notice, Bearcat Insider took notice of the player who hasn't seen much press coverage during the past few months.
Standing 5-foot-11 and 228 pounds Winters has seen college coaches take notice of his athletic build and ability. While not the fastest player when running a forty, Winters has quick feet and great physical skills to be a top fullback at the next level.
During the past few months Dustin has traveled the highways from Southeast Ohio to places like Michigan, Ohio State, Akron, Cincinnati, Ball State, Pittsburgh and coming up soon Buffalo. While no offers have come his way at this time, that's not stopping Dustin from working towards his goals of becoming a college student athlete and educational major.
"This has been a great learning experience for me and my family. I've learned much about how different colleges are set up. You have a school like Ohio State that is just so big and then you get to see a campus like Miami (Ohio) and understand the differences between the two."
One thing that Dustin understands is that college coaches don't often make the trip into Southeastern Ohio for recruiting trips.
"It's strange, you would think with schools like Ohio University and Marshall being so close they would be hitting the area schools real hard. Marshall now has a new coach who says he's going to recruit the area better than what it's been in the past. I hope so; there are some great football players in this part of the state."
With great body strength (Bench - 315 lbs. Box Squat - 530 x 10) Dustin knows he's got some things to work on to improve his game.
"I feel my strengths as a player is my leadership ability. I'm vocal and also try and lead by example. I'm not one of these guys that just go out and yell at everyone. That doesn't solve anything. But I also know I need to work on my overall speed. I feel that is my greatest weakness at this time."
While Dustin has spent much of the past month at camps, he knows things are just starting to heat up.
"The coach from Buffalo e-mailed me and they want me to come up for a Senior Camp. My plan is to go up and do my best and see what happens."
While Dustin's goal is to play at the college level, he knows there are greater goals out there for him to achieve. A top student Dustin knows education is the main reason to head off to college.
"I've got a 3.0-3.2 GPA right now. I scored a 21 on my ACT and have not received my score back on my SAT. I plan on taking them over again to improve my score. I'm also going to retake a few classes so I can get better scores in them."
With all the travel Dustin has done over the past few weeks we asked what school impressed him the most.
"Cincinnati! I would love to play for their coaches. They are great and treat you like a person not just another football player. I've liked all the schools I've been to but Cincinnati stands above all of them."
Are the Bearcats in the cards for Dustin Winters? That is a question Dustin would like to know. In any given year you could see Coach Dantonio recruit a great kid like Dustin, but this is not a normal year for the Bearcats staff. With a low scholarship number for the 2006 Class and no real need for a fullback, Dustin may have to hold out hope of seeing an official offer come from the Bearcats. With or without one I know Dustin Winters will be playing college football at some level at some school.