The USF football staff's recruiting efforts has taking them outside of the sunshine state's borders and into Alabama, a state where they found a few gems in the past and are targeting a few prospects for 2012 as well. One of them is Jamichael Winston, a 6-foot-5, 230 pound defensive end prospect out of Vigor HS in Daphne, AL. The same school the Bulls found OT Quinterrius Eatmon in 2009.
Winston was being recruited as a sophomore, but dislocated his shoulder during Vigor's spring game in 2010, needed to have surgery and missed his entire junior season. He is now fully healed, practicing and looking forward to his senior season.
"Being injured and missing the year was just a horrible feeling," said Winston. "I'm fully healed now, back practicing and it feels great. It's the first time I've had pads on in since I was a sophomore."
The talented D-lineman played at 6'4, 195 pounds as a sophomore, but has put on some size since he last suited up and is now 6-foot-5, 230 pounds and is getting back into game shape.
"Right now I'm working on getting my legs back under me," said Winston. "I was able to get back in the weight room a few months ago. I have a trainer and I've gotten a whole lot stronger. I bench pressed 265, squatted 315, and had a 225 pound power clean. I still have a ways to go."
Winston plays weak side defensive end for Vigor and at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds is long and tall and said his speed is his best attribute.
"My best asset is my speed and my quickness off the ball. I ran a 4.5 in the 40," said Winston. "Our defensive line coach teaches us that every day. We have to run the first 10-yards at a certain speed or we don't participate in team drills. I'm working on getting bigger, stronger and everything I can to get better."
Now that he's fully healed programs have taken notice and shown interest, as he's seen his offer list grow to 11 since March. Winston now has scholarship offers from from Mississippi State, Kentucky, Syracuse, Louisville, Southern Miss, Memphis, FIU and South Alabama, and this week picked up three more.
"Recruiting is going great and I just picked up offers from Arkansas, South Florida, and Western Kentucky this week," said Winston. "A lot of schools are coming by and I'm hearing from a bunch of programs."
"Coach Hargreaves said that he was glad to hear from me, told me about the offer and said that he meant to offer me when he came by my school. I feel good about getting that offer," said Winston. "I like Coach Hargreaves as a coach. He's honest and straight up with me."
"He and Coach Smith were showing me pictures and telling me about all the new facilities they're building, the stadium they play in, the indoor facility they're going to build, and all they're building for the other sports as well," said Winston. "He wants me to come down there for an unofficial visit, explore the campus and see if I like the school."
One of Winston's former teammates, Quinterrius Eatmon is a redshirt freshman at USF and is listed as a starting offensive tackle. The two are friends and Winston credits Eatmon for his growth as a player
"Oh yeah, we're friends. He was a senior when I was a sophomore and we used to go against each other in practice," said Winston. "He was a big boy and I was just 195 pounds, playing against him made me into a man. Quinterrius was up here for our scrimmage last week. He lost a lot of weight and looked great."
With Eatmon being a former teammate and starting the Bulls, is he trying to recruit the talented defensive end to come to USF?
"We talk, and he just tells me that once I get down to South Florida I will see," said Winston. "I'm interested in them and I'm going to try and get down to Tampa this summer, probably sometime in June for their camp."
With 11 offers in hand and more coming Winston doesn't have a favorite, but has interest in the Bulls program and two schools that offered him early have a slight edge right now.
"I don't have a leader and I'm pretty open right now," said Winston. "I'm interested in Louisville and Mississippi State, they offered me early, but I'm also interested in some others and I want to find out more about some of these other schools as well."
The Vigor prospect has taken several visits already and plans on taking more this summer
"I visited Southern Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama, and Auburn," said Winston. "I'll try and get up to Louisville and down to USF this summer and check them out."
Winston said he doesn't think he'll wait until signing day to make his decision and like to make it early.
"I'm going to try and make it early, probably after the summer," said Winston. "I'm going to take my time, see who offers, and take as many visits as I can, before I commit to anyone."
The stand-out defensive end may not have a leader, but does know what he's looking for in making his choice
"I'm looking at the school's graduation rate, and if I'm going to get on the field my freshman year and what the depth charts look like," said Winston. "I want to see if I'll fit in there and if that's where I want to spend my next four or so years at."
Stay tuned with USFNation.com as we keep you updated on Jamichael Winston and the rest of the 2012 recruiting class.