Winston Smokes Fast Foes

In the world of high school football the best athletes often end up at the position that best meets the team's needs over the needs of the individual, as a result the best cornerback talent is usually the best wide receiver, tailback or quarterback.

Of course there's nothing wrong with that. After all football is a team sport and a head coach is responsible as well as accountable for the team's level of success. The downside is highly recruited cornerbacks may enter the collegiate level with little if any playing time on the corner. That makes for a particularly tough transition and can result in arrested development.

Prime example is sophomore star Eric Berry who was rated the nation's No. 1 cornerback prospect in 2007 despite the fact he never played a down at the position throughout four seasons as a varsity starter. Clearly Berry had the ability to cover one-on-one but his skills at safety were finely tuned over nearly 60 games and his instincts were honed. The Vols gave him a look at corner but quickly realized they would get a quicker return by leaving him at safety. Good decision.

Darius Winston is the exception to this general rule in that he has hardly played anything other than cornerback at Helena Central High School. In essence he's a pure cover corner with depth of experience to match his athletic largess. At 6-foot-1, 181 pounds, Winston can match up with big receivers while his speed and transition skills allow him to hang with the quickest and swiftest of wide receivers. He is rated the nation's No. 4 corner by Scout.com and the No. 34 prospect overall.

Where Winston really smokes the competition is when it comes to disposable game speed. He consistently clocks in the sub-4.4 range in the 40 and has turned in times in the 4.30 neighborhood which is a residence for the remarkably rapid and 24-carat confident.

"I feel like I can cover anybody," he told Inside Tennessee in an interview Wednesday. "If you want me to play bump and run I can do that. If you want me to leave him (receiver) on the line, I'll leave him on the line. If you want me to follow him down the field I'll follow him down the field. I feel like I can play man and I can play off-man good, and I can also play zone real good. I can read the quarterback. So I feel I can bring a lot to the team playing corner."

Winston originally committed to the Razorbacks, thinking that would be the only attractive offer he would receive. Since that time he has collected over 40 offers, and decided to remain open until he could better investigate schools of interest. Tennessee is one of those schools, and Winston indicates the Vols will get an official visit along with Michigan. He is also considering trips to Georgia, Florida State, LSU, MIami, Clemson and Ole Miss.

"As far as a timeframe anything could happen," he said. "I plan on taking all my official visits. I plan on going to Tennessee and, right now, I'm planning on going to Michigan. I'm too far along right now to consider new offers."

Winston is being recruited for Tennessee by Steve Caldwell, and he praises the assistant coach for his straightforward, no nonsense approach.

"Tennessee has been recruiting me since the beginning of March probably," he said. "I found out by looking at the computer (Scout.com).

"Yes sir, I talk to Coach Caldwell quite a bit. He seems like a down-to-earth coach. He's real with me. I know Coach Caldwell is going to tell me how it is."


Inside Tennessee Top Stories