Two minute drill
“Growing up I was always overlooked as an athlete. Until high school, I played offensive line.” Well, once overlooked athlete Ivory Winters isn’t being overlooked anymore. In fact, he was recruited by Kentucky, Purdue, Southeast Missouri State, Arkansas State, Kansas State, Nebraska and Indiana. On April 20, the Indiana Hoosiers won that battle when Ivory took to Twitter.
First I want to give an honor to God for blessing me with the opportunity to continue my football career at the Indiana University. Wanna thank my coaches, family, and teammates for helping get here. Gods plan we just getting started.,@coachrobHHS @JPRockMO @MHart2032 🔴⚪️ pic.twitter.com/6cUh19ICQM
— Ivory (@Ivoryw_1) April 20, 2018
Ivory, out of Hayti, Missouri, is the second of three players committed to Indiana’s promising 2019 recruiting class. The class includes 4-star defensive end Beau Robbins (story) and 3-star receiver Emery Simmons.
Winters on paper
For starters, he’s a 3-star athlete who plays running back and outside linebacker at Hayti High School. According to 247Sports, Winters is the eighteenth ranked recruit out of Missouri. He is also the 54th running back nationally, and 842nd overall. He’s listed at 6-1, 205 pounds and a 4.43 forty yard dash time. Through three years of high school, Ivory has already achieved more than the average athlete does in his lifetime.
That being said, Winters is not your average athlete. In 2017-18, he brought home four different defensive awards. He was named first-team all-conference, first-team all-district, first-team all-state and SEMO defensive player of the year. In addition to these defensive achievements, he earned an additional six offensively: first-team all-conference running back, first-team all-district running back, first team all-state running back, team MVP and he was named a Car Trophy finalist. If that wasn’t enough, Ivory and three other teammates won state in the 4 x 200 m. relay in 2018. The guy is dangerously quick.
Winters on turf
Winters is an impressive athlete when only considering his accomplishments. However, it is not until actually seeing him play that you appreciate what a special talent he is. He is listed as a running back offensively, but his game is much more dynamic than taking handoffs out of the backfield. For example, he plays a similar type of game as Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen. Yes, Cohen is 5-6, 170 pounds and Winters is seven inches taller and 35 pounds heavier, but this comparison works, trust me. Tarik Cohen is the most versatile player in the Bears offense. As a running back, he was second on the team in both targets and receptions with 71 and 53, respectively. Every time Cohen is on the field, he is in the minds of the defense. On film, Winters fits this concept like a glove. Every single time Winters lines up for a snap, he is a threat. Furthermore, there is no limit to what he is able to do on the offensively. For instance, he can run an option, take a handoff or catch passes with ease. Winters’ pass catching ability is fantastic and his breakaway speed is incredible.
The X factor
Though his versatility is undoubtedly a bonus for the Hoosiers, Winters’ ability to turn something into nothing is the most impressive part of his game. Countless times in his junior season, Winters’ quarterback would toss a pass to him out of desperation. Rather than eat it to take whatever small gain he had, Winters is able to use his speed to create space until he finds a hole, and BOOM, he finds the end zone. In simple terms, Ivory can turn a busted play into a home run while making it look effortless.
Furthermore, Winters simply isn’t afraid. On film, he goes up and gets balls in traffic without hesitation while fully aware of the pending hit. Seemingly, he is willing to do whatever his team needs to win. Whether it’s offense, defense or punt returns. If you name it, he’s doing it. A perfect example of this “whatever-it-takes” mentality is seen from 6:03-6:17 on his junior year Hudl tape. He tries to go in and out on a defender but the guy doesn’t bite. Winters pushes him off anyway and scores. He’s pure muscle. Pure determination. Pure fun.
Sit down with Ivory
I was fortunate enough to get to sit down and have a conversation with him this past week. Here’s a transcript of that conversation.
- Sam Boland: “Was there a determining factor which convinced you IU was right for you?”
- Ivory Winters: “When I visited the campus and all the coaching staff had the same goals about their football program.”
- Sam: “Do you prefer the offensive or defensive side of the ball? Why?”
- Winters: “Offensive. [I] love getting the ball into my hands anyway possible.”
- Sam: “Do you have any specific goals for your senior season?”
- Winters: “Winning a state championship, Car Trophy, All American”
(He was previously a Car trophy finalist in 2017)
- Sam: “What are your goals for your time at IU?”
- Winters: “National Championship, Big Ten Championship, All American”
- Sam: “What’s your favorite memory of high school ball so far?”
- Winters: “Breaking the school record [for] touchdowns in a season.”
- Sam: “Who’s your biggest influence in life?”
- Winters: “God. He is the leader of my spirit”
- Sam: “I read about the game ‘Killer’. Can you describe that for me?
- Winters: “It’s like playing twenty-one in basketball but its football. Every man for themself. The object is to score against every single person on the field…which is hard when you have twenty other people trying to kill you.”
Well, I suppose Killer is a rather fitting name.
- Sam: “Tell me something about growing up. Could be anything, sports, family, friends, whatever you want.”
- Winters: “Growing up, I was always overlooked as an athlete. Until high school, I played on the offensive line.”
Then I decided to have a little fun.
- Sam: “Favorite food?”
- Winters: “Steak”
- Sam: “Favorite musical artist?”
- Winters: “Lil Baby”
- Sam: “Favorite NFL team?”
- Winters: “ [Jacksonville] Jaguars”
- Sam: “Favorite NFL player?”
- Winters: “Leonard Fournette”
- Sam: “Is there any player you’d compare yourself to?”
- Winters: “Leonard Fournette”
I probably should’ve seen that coming.
- Sam: “Favorite movie?”
- Winters: “3 Ninjas”
- Sam: “Favorite TV show?”
- Winters: “Martin”
- Sam: “Is there anything you want Hoosier fans to know about you?”
- Winters: “I’m here to help continue the winning and success at IU.”
Though the conversation with Winters was quick and done over messaging, it was very telling about the kind of person he is. His eyes are very much set on his future, and it’s a bright one at that. He is motivated by his past and his upbringing. God is his biggest influence, playing Killer with this friends made him as tough and elusive as he is today and being named a Car trophy finalist has only motivated even more to win that award this coming season. He’s tough, resilient, has good taste in movies and an even better taste in Big 10 schools. Here’s to nothing but the best in Winters’ future.