Corey Winfield to Northern Illinois was a virtual lock until the last 10 days or so, when Syracuse's coaching change resulted in new offers, interests and recruiting goals. Now atop the Orange's board, the St. Louis (Mo.) Riverview Gardens talent took an official visit to learn more about the ‘Cuse.
"When I got there, I met with my host," he said of SU wideout Jarrod West. "He was just telling me about the program and how everything goes and how it's a family and everything. "
"He was good, he was real open-minded," Winfield continued of West. "He told me what I need to do to come in and play. He said ‘if you come in and compete, you can play your freshman year.' We talked about track and basketball and we played some NCAA…he beat me once and I beat him once.
"I told him if I come here, he's going to have a problem."
After some go-kart racing, dinner at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and a tour of the new facilities, the group of official visitors broke off to the academic portion of the weekend and Winfield got the chance to learn more of his desired major.
"We met with one of the teachers for mechanical engineering, she took me on a tour and showed me everything," said Winfield. "She showed me the processes of everything.
"Education is a big thing there, and that's my main goal. It was a big plus."
Another important part of the trip for someone like the 6-foot-2, 185-pound wide receiver as he gets the crash-course in everything SU, was meeting with the coaching staff.
"The coaches were really nice," he recalled. "It was a difference…they were more professional and everything. Not saying Northern Illinois wasn't, but there's a different feeling with the two schools.
"It was just a family thing."
The family feel extended out beyond the football roster.
"When I would visit other schools, there were corn fields two feet away," he said with a laugh. "But in Upstate New York, I saw a lot of different people like the alumni and the fans. They're really into football so much and really care about their players.
"Everybody is from somewhere else…it was just really nice."
"I can see myself out there for the next four to five years of my life," Winfield continued. "After we ate dinner, we went out. It was like home, because there's a down town down here in St. Louis. It was like that. It's a place I go to a lot, so it was like home. It wasn't the corn field or in the middle of nowhere.
"It's like I can't get bored out there."
On the final day, Winfield was courted once more by Scott Shafer and company.
"I talked to the head coach the most," he said. "He's just always around. He stayed on me and I asked him how many receivers he was taking in. He said they're only taking one, so I felt kind of good about it. He could have taken somebody else, but they offered me.
"I talked to coach [Rob] Moore and the offensive coordinator a lot. The QB coach as well, that was the main thing."
Winfield was joined by his uncle, Neil, on the official visit.
"He loved it, he went out with us one night and then he said ‘I'm not hanging out with y'all no more,' but he was excited about the trip," he said.
Shafer is set to meet with Winfield and his parents on Tuesday night, and the tone of the night may go a long way towards the future of one of the best players in the Show Me State considering his parents were unable to see Syracuse for themselves.
Said Winfield, "I have to sit down and talk to my parents. My mom wanted to go but it was a late notice thing…so if he (Shafer) can sell it to them we will roll with it. It's just Syracuse and Northern Illinois.
"I'm in the middle of it right now."