August 15, 2008

Five-star corner sets announcement date

The recruitment of five-star cornerback Darius Winston has taken some twists and turns since his commitment to Arkansas back in February. After making his early commitment, Winston saw the top programs from around the country come calling including heavy-hitters like USC, Michigan, Florida and LSU. With his interest piqued, Winston decided to open the process back up completely. Now, as his senior football season approaches, the West Helena (Ark.) Central product feels confident enough to make his final decision.

"I'm making my final announcement on Sept. 4th or 5th," Winston confirmed on Friday afternoon.

Sept. 5th is the date of West Helena Central's opening game against Arkansas power Pulaski Academy and Kansas wide receiver commit Neal Barlow, a player that Winston will likely be matched up against all night. In the day or so before that kickoff, Winston hopes to announce his college choice, a choice he has already made.

"I've already decided," he said. "I was thinking about team needs in the future and the team where I can reach my full potential. I looked at the other schools to make sure I made the right decision and now I know where I'm going to go."

Winston's college choice will come from the five finalists of Arkansas, Clemson, Tennessee, Michigan and Ole Miss. Only two of those programs have seen Winston hit campus.

"I've been to Arkansas a few times and I've been to Ole Miss for their camp," he said. "I like that whole coaching staff at Ole Miss."

There were some common traits that tied together the final five schools.

"Over the past few weeks, I've been looking into future needs," he said. "I've been looking into what the team needs in my position and where I can reach the top potential and these top schools are the five that I see myself being able to do that at."

Just weeks ago, Winston had considered taking some official visits during the season and continuing to survey all of his options. At this point, it seems like that is much less of a possibility.

"It's not looking that way anymore," he said of his official visit schedule. "I think when I make this decision, that's probably going to be it for me."

So how did Darius come to his sudden decision?

"It was actually two days ago," he said. "I went to a few camps and they kind of helped out and I've been doing a lot of research. I had wanted to make a decision before the season so I'm going to do it now. I might make the announcement the night before or the day of the game. I'm not sure, but I know on the day of the game I'll be more worried about beating Pulaski Academy."

Physically, Winston is still recovering from a fractured pinky he sustained at the Ole Miss camp recently. However, the fast and physical corner hopes to be full speed and full contact by the time his senior season kicks off.

"I'm able to practice but no physical contact yet," he said. "We're a little rusty right now but we'll be clicking that first game."

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