Eric Winston Journal #4

Eric Winston checks back with CanesTime for his fourth journal entry, which he updates on a monthly basis. Once again he lets readers know how his rehab process is coming along and gives his thoughts on the team's first week of spring practice. Also, he offers his opinion on his sleeper team that will make the Final Four.

PREVIOUS ERIC WINSTON JOURNALS

#1 – December 6 | #2 – January 21 | #3 – February 21

INTRO

Miami fans,

I just got back from spring break and it went pretty well. I went to Dallas to see a friend of mine at North Texas and then to see some of my friends from AAU basketball. After Dallas I headed back to Midland for the last five days to spend time with my family. I have a pretty big family—a total of four brothers, a step dad, a mom, and dad. I have pretty much grown up with them throughout my life. I don't get to see them very often, except the brother I live with, so it is nice when I do get to spend time with them.

REHAB

While I was home I relaxed quite a bit, but I did keep up with my rehab. My knee feels really good right now and I feel like I'm making steady improvements. Every day is a little better. I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and I really think I will be ready to play this year. I don't think I ever doubted that I would be ready, but it was always the uncertainty of not knowing for sure. Everyone would always tell me that I would be ready and I would keep telling myself that, but it is a lot easier to realize it now that I am moving along so well.

I am starting to do a lot of running outside and small things with the team such as high knees and karaoke--slowly, not full-speed. But it is good for me that I am not just running forward and that I am running side-to-side. Another part of my rehab that I have been very involved with recently is the use of the pool.

I have been using the pool twice a week for about an hour at a time. I used to swim a lot when I was younger, but this is the first time I have ever used the pool for performance training. While in the pool I bet I move a total distance of a ½ mile in a lot of different movements. I have gradually gotten better and the work in the pool is not easy—it is a heck of a workout.

Everything is feeling good and I'm excited with my progress. When I am in the pool I do not waste much time in between sets. I want to utilize my time in there to keep improving. I have been lucky so far with my rehab and knock on wood, I haven't had any setbacks or anything to worry about.

Right now my weight fluctuates between 309-315 pounds depending on the day. In the first month after surgery I lost 30 pounds including a lot of muscle mass in my leg. Gaining weight is one thing that I have never tried to do. Even when I was moved to tackle it just came naturally. I just started eating regularly and filled out my frame.

Before spring break we maxed out in the weight room. I maxed out at 340 pounds on the bench press, which was good for me. Bench has always been something that I have had to work hard at for some reason. I am the strongest I have ever been in my upper body. With a good summer I hope to be in the 360-370 range. I did not max out on squat or clean, but I have maxed out at 515 squat and 370 in the power clean.

Although I did not max out in squat I have done a lot of high volume repetitions to build the muscles. I will do four sets of eight at 245 pounds, which is really good for me.

FIRST WEEK OF PRACTICE

Last week was our first week of spring practices and I was happy with it. It is good to have a week like that and then to have a week off. We had just three practices, one hitting, but it gives coaches something to evaluate on where we need to go. It also gives players a chance to step back to see where they are at and what they need to improve upon.

I thought the offensive line did a good job of coming off the ball and opening holes. They know where they need to go from now on. All of the running backs, Charlie Jones, George Timmons, and Derron Thomas, did a good job of hitting the holes. They are all competing hard. They had their mistakes, but everyone did. What I liked was that they were pressing the holes and not dancing around in the back. You want a guy that hits the hole well especially holes early on. And the quarterbacks are competing like everyone thought they would. I thought the receivers really stepped it up last week and are comprised primarily of juniors and seniors.

Hopefully today we will pick it back up and have a good rest of the spring.

SENIOR LEADERSHIP

It has started to hit me that this is my last year. It feels like I just got here. It is funny being considered a senior. I was just talking with Sinorice Moss the other day, since our lockers are across from each other, and we both feel like we just got here and that is has been a fun ride. I think guys like Sinorice are going to be great leaders for our team this year.

I also think Orien Harris is going to be a leader along with Roger McIntosh. Greg Threat is a great leader by example guy and Kelly Jennings is going to be a good leader too. There is not going to be a lack of leaders. Sometimes people will say there are too many ‘chiefs' on the team, but I don't think that will be a problem. Everybody is on the same page and we are really pushing ourselves. When you have good guys like we have, we are going to be just fine.

One thing that we want to establish this year is a good team atmosphere. Last year I thought we got along well, but we want to have an even closer group this year. We don't have to have everyone hanging out with everyone all of the time away from the field, but it is the little things that count. I have already noticed a better attitude around the team this year. Everyone is doing a good job of going out of their way to help each other out and look out for one another. For example, the other day Devin Hester saw me on campus and gave me a ride to the Hecht Center even though it was out of his way to where he was going.

This is becoming a closer group as a lot of the guys live in the same apartment complex or will hang out in the locker room more. It is those little things that make a big difference. And to be honest, I haven't always seen that around here. It was something that Orien and I talked about last year and wanted to change, but we have to keep building on it. Any type of relationship either builds or goes backwards, it won't stay the same. And it is definitely something we want to keep building around here.

NCAA BASKETBALL

Like a majority of sports fans I have been watching the NCAA basketball tournament. After watching a number of games I have a team that will make it to the Final Four—Texas Tech. Yes, that is right and here's why. They play like a team comprised of selfless players. All they care about is winning. They have a couple of good athletes, but most of them are just hard-workers that all play for each other. They will force you to make mistakes and then capitalize on them. They play great as a team. I have had the opportunity to meet Bobby Knight a couple of times in person and although he can be a hard guy to play for, in the end nobody will love you more.

I love watching them play. Texas Tech to the Final Four!

-EW-

Eric Winston is working with CanesTime Senior Writer & Assistant Editor Christopher Stock on his journal entries. If you have any questions, comments, or topics of interest for Eric you can send an email to stock@canestime.com.

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