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Penn State Football All 105

Penn State Football All 105: True Freshman KJ Winston Looks to Build on Decorated Career at DeMatha

Graphic courtesy of KJ Winston’s Twitter account

All 105 is a Nittany Sports Now series profiling each Penn State football player. In this edition, we will be taking a look at true freshman safety KJ Winston.

Before Penn State: Born Kevin Winston Jr, the Penn State Class of 2022 signee played at the legendary DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland.

It’s a high school that has helped past Penn State players, such as Cameron Wake, and is also where current Penn State defensive tackle Coziah Izzard played.

At DeMatha, Winston— also a track runner in high school— lettered all four years became a two-time team captain and team MVP.

In his senior season, Winston picked up 50 tackles, intercepted three passes, broke up 10 and recovered a fumble which he subsequently ran in for a touchdown.

His performance as a senior earned him Maryland High School Player of the Year Honors from the DC Touchdown Club.

247Sports, Rivals and On3 all had Winston as a four-star prospect, and ESPN had him as a three-star. 247, Rivals and On3 also had Winston as a top five player overall player in Maryland from his class, and ESPN ranked him 15th.

He committed to Penn State on the last day of July 2021, choosing coach James Franklin’s program over fellow Big Ten schools Maryland and Michigan State, among others.

Where he stands: Penn State has a talented safeties room led by fifth-year senior Ji’Ayir Brown. Redshirt freshman Jaylen Reed is expected to start alongside Brown, with fellow freshman Zakee Wheatley also impressing at the position over spring camp.

In the 2022 class, Winston is joined by Cristian Driver and junior college transfer Tyrece Mills.

With an established vet in Brown starting at one safety spot and Reed— who got a good chunk of playing time as a true freshman, starting at the other, Penn State is in good hands. Barring injury, Winston, Driver and Mills are more likely to be depth pieces than starters, and Winston and Driver could redshirt as well.

In Winston’s case, however, he could find himself playing in other areas of the secondary.

A quote about Winston:

Franklin talked about that versatility on early sign of day.

“(Winston) has the length that we think can play safety,” he said. “We think he can also play the star, the nickel-quarter position. And there’s part of me that would like to start him at corner, to see if he could do that.”

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