Before he steps foot on a college football field, Greenbrier’s Hunter Winston has proven one thing.
He can play with pain, lots of it.
Greenbrier’s star running back, who played his entire senior season with an injury, signed a letter of intent Thursday to play football at Arkansas Tech University.
He has recently had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus and also has had an offseason medical procedure for a sports hernia.
“The pain was pretty bad sometimes,” said Winston of his experiences last season. “Most of the time, I couldn’t practice during the week. I tried to had enough to make it to halftime each game. After halftime, it was hard to get back out there. But the intensity of the game got the adrenaline going and it helped me not think about it.”
He now has begun practice with the Panther baseball team as a catcher/outfielder and says he’s about 85 percent.
“This summer, I want to really work on getting back into shape and get bigger and faster and back to where I was,” he said.
He said he signed with Tech because of the opportunity to play right away.
“They really showed the most interest and they told me they didn’t have a starting running back right now and if I came in and worked hard, I had a chance to get some playing time,” he said.
Tech also runs a similar offense to Greenbrier.
“That should help in that I’m used to a passing offense and things should be familiar,” he said. “I think one advantage I have is I can get the ball out in the open and run and catch.”
In his junior and senior seasons at Greenbrier, Winston rushed for a combined 2,900 yards and has had 700 yards in receptions each season. He caught 47 and 44 passes those two years.
“He also scored 63 touchdowns in two years,” said Greenbrier coach Randy Tribble. “That’s a lot of touchdowns. Not a whole lot of players can say they did that.”
Tribble said the Tech coaches were impressed both by Winston’s running ability and his ability to catch the football.
“He’s a good enough tackler and blocker to play on special teams,” Tribble said.
Once he returns to full speed, Tribble thinks Winston has a big upside.
“He’s going to have the usual adjustment to college ball but once he makes that adjustment and learns their system and gets into a college offseason program and they learn how to use him, I can’t wait to see what he can do there.”