By Allen Moff | STAFF WRITER
Kent State star left tackle Brian Winters has made a solid showing during this week's pivotal series of practices leading into the prestigious Senior Bowl, which is at 4 p.m. today in Mobile, Ala.
Winters has been featured several times during broadcasts of practices that have appeared on NFL Network, and is known to have interviewed with representatives from the Tennessee Titans, New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos.
Winters, a former star at Hudson High School, weighed in at 6-foot-3 1/2 and 310 pounds. He will likely be switched from tackle to guard at the pro level, and is rated as the fifth-best prospect at guard by NFLDraftScout.com. Various mock drafts typically have Winters being selected in rounds 3-5.
Winters is only the second KSU player to take part in the Senior Bowl, joining former star guard Bob Hallen (1998). Hallen was taken in the second round of the '98 draft by the Atlanta Falcons and went on to play in the NFL through 2005. Meanwhile, he is the only Mid-American Conference player that was invited to today's game.
Winters started every game during his Kent State career, and leaves with a program-record 50 starts. He earned All-Mid-American Conference honors for the past three years at left tackle, including First Team recognition in 2012.
The Senior Bowl will be held Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, where the Flashes fell to Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl on Jan. 6. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on NFL Network.
RECRUITING CRUNCH TIME
With national signing day quickly approaching (Feb. 6), new Kent State football coach Paul Haynes and his staff have been blazing the recruiting trail.
According to information from various sources, the Flashes currently have 11 verbal commitments. Darius Redmond, a 6-1, 210-pound linebacker out of Florida who Haynes previously recruited while serving as defensive coordinator at Arkansas, gave his verbal during Kent State's men's basketball game against Akron on Saturday at the sold-out M.A.C. Center.
Other recruits known to have committed since Haynes took over the program are Mykel Traylor-Bennett, a 6-foot-4 wide receiver from Reynoldsburg; and Terence Waugh, a 6-2, 220-pound linebacker from Georgia.
Verbals who originally committed when Darrell Hazell was Kent State's head coach include Roman Clay, a highly regarded 5-10, 210-pound running back from Lancaster, Pa., along with defensive back Eric Church (New Jersey), tight end Brock Macaulay (West Holmes H.S.), linebacker Dustyn Moore (Georgia), defensive tackle Tyson Reinke (Minnesota), linebacker Ryan Seibert (Powell, Oh.), quarterback Nathan Strock (Dresden/Tri Valley H.S.) and quarterback/athlete Kris White (Florida).
FACILITY UPGRADES COMING
Funding has reportedly been secured to replace the outdated artificial surface currently used on the practice football field inside the Kent State Fieldhouse with Fieldturf. Officials also continue to discuss knocking out the south wall and extending the facility into the current parking lot to make room for the addition of locker rooms for the Flashes track & field, women's soccer and field hockey teams.
Winters will not be the only Kent State football player competing in a postseason all-star game. Senior quarterback Spencer Keith and senior kicker Freddy Cortez will take part in the Ohio vs. Michigan Senior Bowl on April 20 at Fawcett Stadium in Canton. Keith is KSU's all-time leader in passing yards (8,062) and completions (732), while Cortez is the program leader in career points (299) and field goals made (56). … Kent State is selling the gold helmets worn by football players during the GoDaddy.com bowl for $1,000 each. … KSU will host a Signing Day Party at Quaker Steak & Lube in the Student Center on Feb. 6 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.