Winston Watkins

Buckeyes Still a Factor for Five-Star Receiver Winston Watkins

MIAMI, Fla. — Another year and another recruiting cycle where Ohio State finds itself at the forefront of the recruiting process for many of the nation’s top wide receivers. Naples (FL) First Baptist Academy five-star Winston Watkins Jr. is a player that Brian Hartline has put a lot of time into recruiting.

After early decommitments from both Texas A&M and Colorado, Watkins is taking a more patient approach these days to his recruiting process, but Ohio State remains firmly in the picture.

“I’m very much open right now,” Watkins told on Sunday. “Hartline is one of my guys. He’s been my guy since like 9th grade, so I just want to keep building my relationship with the Buckeyes and keep building my relationship with all of the coaches so I can figure out where I want to be.”

Hartline has stuck with it with Watkins through a pair of prior commitments and has never stopped communicating with the big-time speedster.

“From the beginning he has basically just said come be a guy,” Watkins said. “Carnell Tate was my roommate at IMG Academy so me and Carnell had that relationship and so coach Hartline has been (involved) and just been telling me to come be a guy and you don’t want to keep playing around with these other colleges.”

Seeing Tate excel as a true freshman last season has only enhanced Watkins’ interest in Ohio State.

“I talk to (Tate) all the time about how he’s doing,” Watkins said. “Just getting another point of view. He loves it up there, he’s ready to ball. Marvin is heading to The League so it’s his time to shine.”

It’s those relationships in Columbus that have kept the Buckeyes in the race despite there maybe not being as much buzz around Watkins and Ohio State over the past year.

“Really just Brian Hartline, we’ve had a connection for the longest, like 3-4 years,” Watkins started. “Ryan Day is my guy as well. When I went up there he showed me nothing but love. I love all of those guys, coach (Keenan Bailey), coach Jordan, all of them.”

On Watkins’ next stop in Columbus, he’ll have a new coach to build a relationship with as well in offensive coordinator Chip Kelly. Watkins was impressed that the Buckeyes were able to hire Kelly away from his head coaching position at UCLA.

“That was definitely a great pick up,” he said. “They’re trying to air it out and run the ball so getting Chip Kelly is a great adjustment to that team to get to mix and match the offense to make sure they’re even more unstoppable.”

Watkins says he will make an unofficial visit to Ohio State this spring and then return later in the process for an official. He also added that he doesn’t play to commit anywhere until December.

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