Junior update: Midland Lee's Drew Winston

<B>Drew Winston</B>, a 6-3, 195-pound wide receiver from Midland Lee is a prospect from West Texas you'll definitely want to keep an eye on. Many times these guys from Abilene, Midland and the Odessa area get overlooked in the early stages of the recruiting process, but this prep has the added benefit of being the younger brother of <B>Eric Winston</B>, the state's top TE prospect of the 2002 recruiting class who played as a true freshman this past season for the Miami Hurricanes.

The Midland Lee Rebel caught 22 passes for 425 yards and five TDs during the '02 season, netting him 1st-team all district as a wideout despite playing in a run-oriented offense and having a less than average passing attack.

Winston explains: "When we won the state championship three years in a row with Cedric Benson running all over the place, you have to understand that we were pretty effective using play-action passing. Our passing game was good enough to counter teams loading up to stop the run, so it held its own, that's how our offense works. Basically, our offense starts with the running game and if we can do that successfully, our passing game feeds off of that."

"This year, we were really young," Winston added. "I think we returned three lettermen; me, our quarterback and one guy on D. We didn't have a great running game and we need that because 90 percent of our passing game is off of play-action. We didn't really get good at running the football until the end of the year. Because of that, our passing game never really got in gear."

It looks like Midland Lee might be primed for a deep run next season, though.

"I'm sure we'll be the toughest in our district because almost everybody else in our district (Abilene, Abilene Cooper, Midland High, Odessa and Odessa Permian) loses a lot of seniors while our team returns nine guys on offense and six guys on defense," Winston said. "We should have a better running game because our line won't be as young as they were last year and I should get a lot more action in the passing game this season. We'll be tough to beat."

As big as Eric Winston is, some think Drew Winston might eventually spurt up as well.

"I'm not really sure exactly how tall I'll get because I had an injury a few years back and when I went in to get some X-rays done the doctors told me that I had some really huge growth plates, but I haven't really gotten that big yet," Winston said. "You never really know when you're going to shoot up and add another 30 pounds. At this point, I'm just working on becoming the best receiver I can be and reducing my forty time. If I get bigger, then I'm sure I'll move over to the TE position."

Winston said he can run the 40 in 4.58.

"I'm more of what you would call a big possession-type receiver," the first-team all-district wideout said. "I've got decent speed and it's something I need to work on because I think I can get it down to the 4.4 range and maybe even in the high 4.3 range. The game is getting so fast that if I can't run faster than a 4.6, it's getting to the point where no matter how good my routes and hands are, I'm just not going to get open."

A 4.5 forty time for a 6-3, 195-pound receiver would be more than fast enough, you would think.

"Yes, but I really think I can get it down to the 4.4 range," Winston said. "And I'll be doing a lot of running and pulling tires on 20- and 40-yard sprints. And I'm talking the big tires -- 18-wheeler size, not small ones. I'll be doing a lot of leg strength work, squats, quads, hams and will also be doing some abs and back work. My brother said that Miami does a lot of that (working on their abs and back) to improve their speed. The main thing I'm going to focus on this offseason is improving my speed and hopefully, it works out for me."

As far as the hands go, Winston said he's got the best pair of mitts in the state.

"I would say that that is easily the best part of my game," the West Texas standout said. "I just don't drop passes. I don't drop anything. I'd give myself a 9, almost a 10 on my hands and that's only because I think you can never give yourself a 10 on anything. There's always room for improvement. My route running is probably an 8-9 and my blocking is an 8-9. I recorded 7-8 pancakes from the wide receiver position this year. And I would say that my quickness is about a 7, so the extra running I plan to do this offseason will be spent improving my forty time as well as my quickness."

With the Rebels offense being more of the run-variety, one wonders just how often the receivers actually work on their blocking.

"Before our practice starts we split-up in individual groups," Winston said. "The tight ends and receivers form one of the groups and before we do any pass-catching drills our coaches have us work on our blocking. So, it's something our coaches definitely believe in."

Winston also plays basketball, averaging six points, eight rebounds and a couple of steals a game. And he's going to play baseball this season after batting .500 and going yard four times in West Texas' summer league baseball circuit.

"Yes, I'll probably play first base this year and I'm kind of looking forward to it," he said.

Winston likes Texas, Miami and A&M but he's far from calling anyone a favorite at this point and said he'll look around and see who really wants him and he'd like to enjoy the recruiting process as much as possible before deciding on a particular school. And he'll call on his brother's help. The older Winston, courted by most of the majors, is definitely familiar with the ins and outs of the recruiting game.

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