December 9, 2011

Alabama still working on Winston

MONTGOMERY | At the end of this week, Jameis Winston will likely remain committed to Florida State University. But Alabama continues to make headway with the five-star quarterback, and it's not just the UA coaching staff that's moving the needle.

"I'm talking to Jameis," Crimson Tide commitment Reggie Ragland said. "I'm trying to get him. Jameis is a character, but I am too."

Winston has spent the last week at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game in Montgomery with Ragland, Alabama commits Ryan Anderson and Tyler Hayes, and Auburn pledge in T.J. Yeldon. The group of in-state
stars visited Tuscaloosa last weekend and have been together since Monday, representing the state of Alabama in Saturday's game.

"Me, T.J. and Ryan, we hung out the whole weekend," Winston said of his official visit to Alabama. "Reggie and Tyler came later because they had a basketball game, and Eddie Williams was down there. All of us hung out the whole time."

The Hueytown High School star committed to Florida State in August, but that hasn't stopped him from looking into other schools and taking all of his official visits, including the trip to UA last weekend.

On his official visit, Winston got a tour of the various facilities with the other recruits and also met with Tide offensive coordinator Jim McElwain. The two talked football, but the real game was on the hardwood.

"On Saturday, I sat down with Coach McElwain and talked football," Winston said. "I like him. We actually played a game of basketball. It was a real good game. He beat me two times in a row. He just likes shooting those inside shots. I can't shoot inside, I like shooting those threes."

McElwain and head coach Nick Saban talked to Winston about ways they plan to use him on the field and said there's a chance he could play as a freshman in certain packages if he were to come to Alabama.

"That's something I like because I want to play," Winston said.

The dual-threat signal caller will do whatever it takes to get on the field, but he made it clear that despite his ability to run, he wants to be a passing quarterback, first and foremost.

"(Alabama's) going to run their offense, but hopefully I can work in a couple packages or something like that," Winston said. "The main thing is they're going to develop me like a quarterback, and that's how I wanted to be developed as. I don't want to be a running quarterback."

At the All-Star practices this week, Winston has shown that he's not just a running quarterback. Even in unfavorable conditions, he has blown away coaches, the media and even his teammates with some the throws he's made.

"The dude is unreal," Anderson said. "He can put the ball wherever he wants to. It's crazy. I've never seen that before. I've never really paid attention to quarterbacks before, but the quarterbacks I've played, it's either they can run or they can throw. He can do both."

"He isn't the No. 1 quarterback in the nation for nothing," Hayes said. "He's got good ball skills, good look-off skills and throws a perfect ball. He's a good quarterback."

Ragland, who has grown close with Winston over the last couple of years, has also been impressed with him at quarterback, but was first to mention that not every throw has been perfect.

"He's looked real good," Ragland said. "He might have thrown one pick, and that was to me. But for the most part, he's doing real good all week though."

Winston plans to take three more official visits before making his final trip to Florida State. The schools he's considering for those visits include Auburn, Ohio State and Stanford.

The Rivals.com five-star may now have to wait until after National Signing Day to sign his letter of intent because he's expected to play in the International Bowl on the same day.

Reach Greg Ostendorf at greg@tidesports.com.

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