MOBILE, Ala. -- Brian Winters was a left tackle at the collegiate level, but in working toward his goal of making it to the National Football League, the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Hudson, Ohio, native has made the switch to left guard.
Winters has been getting on-the-job training at left guard in preparation for the 2013 Senior Bowl this week in Mobile.
“My hand’s in the dirt,” Winters said when comparing guard to tackle. “In college, we were in a two-point stance and everything was up. I didn’t have much help. I was always on an island, but now, at guard, my hand’s in the dirt and I’ve got help on both sides.
“I think it’s a great fit for me. I played at left tackle at Kent because no one really could play it. It was really my fit and they thought I could be a great left tackle, but, at this level, I have to definitely play guard and I’m very comfortable with it. My body, the way I look is definitely a guard fit more so than a tackle. I’m not 6-8. I’m 6-4, so I’ve got to deal with that.”
North team coach Dennis Allen said Winters has “made a nice transition” from tackle to guard.
“There’s still a little bit of a learning curve for him inside at the guard, but he’s a big, powerful guy and I think he’s done a nice job of transitioning inside,” Allen said.
Winters feels the guard position is a “great fit” for him, not only for his body type, but because of his physical style of play.
“I was a physical player at the level I played in the MAC, and I want to continue to bring that over,” Winters said. “I don’t want them to think that was a conference thing. I want them to know I’m always physical. I’m pretty quick off the ball.”
Winters, a three-time All-Mid-American Conference player at Kent State, blocked for an offense that averaged 33.1 points, 225.8 rushing yards and 162.5 passing yards per game in 2012. With Winters at left tackle, the Golden Flashes won 11 games and made their first bowl appearance since the 1972 Tangerine Bowl.
Ironically enough, the Golden Flashes played Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, the same place Winters has practiced all week.
“It was a great experience,” Winters said of the practices. “There are a lot of great players from all around. The competition was great. I had the jitters at first because it’s been a while since I had the pads on, but it was a great experience overall and I’m happy with my performance.
“Everyone’s good. Sometimes, you go against those that are not so good and the scrub kids at the level I played at. (Here), everyone is just as good.”
Winters is hoping that a good week of practice and solid showing in the Senior Bowl will allow him to be the next in the line of Kent State standouts who have made an impact in the NFL.“We have had a good amount of players come out of Kent State, including (Joshua) Cribbs and (James) Harrison,” Winters said. “We want to continue the tradition. All of us here want to play on the next level, so we’re really excited for our opportunity.”