That would be Antonio Brown, prevalently mentioned on “best NFL WR” lists these days.
It’s all about the hands.
“The reason I say that is simply because whenever I knew we were kind of just going to go after the punter (and) we really weren't setting up any kind of punt return, I would put Easop back there to return the punt because I knew he would catch every one of them,” said CCSF head man Jimmy Collins told CF.C. “He would never drop one.
“He's got the best hands you've ever seen. He catches everything. During our bye week, I caught a few minutes of the Steelers playing on TV on a Sunday and I saw Antonio Brown was the punt returner, but they let him return them.”
Collins didn’t want Winston returning punts. In fact, he said Winston’s value to the team was such that not only did they use him sparingly in the PR role, it was a high priority to try and limit the hits Winston took during the season at receiver. Winston simply checked every box Collins has for his wide receiver corps, and losing him to injury would have been a huge body blow.
Winston had 71 receptions for 1,171 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2016. His receiving yards and ypg were tops in the CCCAA and he was second in TD grabs. The year before, he had 62 receptions for 986 yards and 12 TDs.
“He is well-rounded in the sense that he runs very good routes, catches the ball with his hands and is elusive,” Collins said. “He does a really nice job of making the first guy miss and gets positive yards after the catch. He has great football speed, and I think for the ability for him to play inside-outside will give him a better chance to get on the field sooner.”
Collins has 3-to-play-2 at Washington State. Despite his 5-11 height, Collins said Winston was most dangerous on the outside at CCSF.
“If you can get the 3 x 1 (receiver sets) and allow him to be the one single receiver, you have a lot of one-on-one matchups where he is dynamic,” Collins said. “He wins his matchups all the time. When he isn't open, you can throw him open because of his ability to adjust and a knack for timing (and also) timing his jumps.”
Collins said as an early-enrollee that Winston is fully capable of making a move on the WSU depth chart this spring, rather than be that “pleasant surprise” to the coaching staff in the fall. The same holds true of OT Robert Valencia, Collins said, who also joined the Cougs out of CCSF in January as a midyear transfer.
With Washington State wide receivers Gabe Marks and River Cracraft graduating, the Cougars have very large shoes to fill this spring and on into the 2017 campaign.
But like Marks and Cracraft, Winston's true value isn't found in speed or height.
“He is a guy that measurables-wise he probably isn't going to wow you at a combine -- but he is always going to be open," said Collins. "He's going to catch the ball essentially every single time and he is pretty dynamic when you get the ball in his hands.”
Sounds like something Cougar fans have seen before.
- Collins has helped place five CCSF players on the WSU roster in the past three recruiting classes: safety Shalom Luani (2015); safety Robert Taylor and QB Anthony Gordon (2016) and Winston and Valencia (2017). WSU's area recruiter in the Bay Area is Jim Mastro.
- In case you missed our tweet this morning, ESPN.com writer Mark Schlabach ranks the Cougs No. 21 in the second iteration of his top 25. In his initial rankings, Schlabach had WSU at No. 23.
- On the defensive side of the ball for WSU, defensive quality control assistant Brian Odom is headed to Missouri as the outside linebackers coach. Barry Odom, Mizzou's head man, is Brian's brother. “(Odom) was vital to our staff ... Brian is a big detail-oriented guy. We’ll miss him here and I know he’ll do a great job at Mizzou, said Alex Grinch. For more, click here.