Ducks fans haven’t forgotten the body punch feeling when USC flipped 4-star Central Catholic linebacker Eli’jah Winston the 11th hour before Late National Signing Day. Winston rebuffed the Ducks but now finds himself in the Transfer Portal five years later. Will Winston now in the 11th hour before fall camp starts, do a 180 degrees and like Chase Cota decide to finish his career as an Oregon Duck.
Winston’s older brother Lamar Winston was a current Duck back in 2018, and Ducks fans felt good about Eli’jah’s commitment holding. To see Winston decommit from the Ducks the day before the Late Signing Period, and then sign with USC the next day was agonizing to the fan base. Mr. FishDuck was enjoying some gaming fun at judi slot online when I reminded him of that flip, and he just about did one recalling it.
The Ducks experienced a wave of decommits when Willie Taggart left for the Florida State head coaching job. Winston though held onto to his commitment, but he did not sign with the Ducks on the early National Signing Day. Winston took a late January visit to USC after the dead period ended, but in the week after he still remained a Duck commit. That would all change when on February 5th, he would decommit from the Ducks and sign with USC the very next day.
Duck fans moved on, but never forgot the sting, while Eli’jah’s career never blossomed at USC. The dysfunction at USC has led to poor development of linebackers, as the 2018 LB class at USC has seen Abdul Malik-McClain a Top 100 prospect, 5-star Palaie Gaoteote, 4-star Raymond Scott and now Winston all transfer out of the program.
In 2019 Winston would play in five games as a redshirt freshman fighting through a turf toe injury that caused him to miss six games. At the end of 2019 USC head coach Clay Helton would fire Defensive Coordinator Clancy Prendergast and replace him with Todd Orlando for the 2020 season. Big things were expected of Winston at USC for the 2020 season, but sadly, in off season workouts Winston would suffer a broken ankle that would require surgery that put him out for the season.
Winston after surgery would start a rehabilitation process that would see him drop down the depth chart, seemingly forgotten by Coach Orlando. Winston would start the 2021 season working on the scout team defense, finally working his way onto the USC pass rush unit but only appearing in one game.
USCFOOTBALL.COM Interviewed Winston After His One Game Appearance of 2021 Against Stanford About His Comeback.
What’s been the hardest part coming back from this injury, working your way through it, to be able to earn those play reps in a game? What was the hardest part? What was the lowest point for you?
“Lowest point? Well, as you know, I had turf toe before my big injury, my ankle injury and I thought that was humbling. But really, that was really an understatement, compared to how humbling my ankle was, and how humbling it was to just honestly work my way up because nobody really saw me play until I started in fall camp. Once I really got more comfortable in fall camp, got more comfortable with my body as well because my body hasn’t been put through that much strenuous effort in a long time.
That’s when I started to feel that I was falling more in love with the process and in the process of building more relationships with my new teammates in my newfound team, rather than me just focusing on any shortcomings or me just focusing on anything at the moment. No, I was more focused on the process of how I was going to do my day to day, how I was going to make my deposits towards myself on a day-to-day basis.”
What would the Ducks be getting in Eli’jah Winston?
First off, Winston is the type of high character locker room asset teams are always looking to add, who understands the process of putting the work in daily. Winston also brings size as a 6’3” 240lb fifth year senior inside backer, who could play both inside linebacker spots adding good size and depth to the roster. Winston would push, and in my opinion, quickly jump Jackson LaDuke as the primary backup to Noah Sewell. Winston would also be a veteran insurance policy if, heaven forbid, Justin Flowe can’t stay healthy and on the field.
Would you like to see Eli’jah join his little brother Emar’rion Winston at Oregon for the 2022 season, and end his career a Duck? Duck fans share your thoughts on the OBD Forum!
Top Photo by John McGillen of USC Athletics
I was born a Cali kid and my uncle is a USC Alum. Remember going to an SC game when I was like 5 with him. I moved to Oregon in 77 when I was 6 and became a Duck fan long ago. I remember Reggie Ogburn OB days, so it was before the Ducks got good. I’ve been a sports nut since I was a kid.
I went to Tigard High about the same time as linebacker Jeremy Asher did, and I watched him team with Rich Ruhl on the inside of the Gang Green defense.
Lots of Ducks memories, Danny O’Neil’s passing in 1st Rose Bowl, Kenny Wheaton, Joey’s comebacks early in his career and how jacked up he got!
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