Kainoa Winston, Wolverine

Kainoa Winston, Wolverine

July 4, 2024
Kainoa Winston and Sherrone Moore (image via Rivals)

Washington (DC) Gonzaga safety Kainoa Winston committed to Michigan on June 14, 2024. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Florida, Georgia, LSU, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, and Penn State, among others.

Winston is listed at 5’10” and 185 pounds. He reportedly holds the 200 meter dash record at Gonzaga with a time of 21.58.

ESPN: 4-star, 84 grade, #4 S, #42 overall
On3: 4-star, 92 grade, #11 S, #103 overall
Rivals: 3-star, 5.7 grade, #36 S
247 Sports: 4-star, 94 grade, #3 S, #43 overall

Hit the jump for more.

Winston took official visits to North Carolina and Penn State, the latter of which has his cousin K.J. Winston as a starting defensive back. But a good relationship with defensive backs coach Lamar Morgan and a couple visits to Michigan, including an official, tipped the scales toward the Wolverines.

Winston’s film is outstanding for a defensive back. While there’s not much man coverage shown, he’s used in a variety of coverages, mostly from a two-high look. You can see his eyes working on sifting through coverage responsibilities, and he’s quick to react and shift his focus. When I see him and his safety teammate moving in sync with each other, that tells me it’s a well coached football team; Gonzaga has a good reputation and I think the transition to college will be a relatively smooth one. Winston has excellent speed, shows a smooth backpedal, changes direction well, and plays inside out when coming downhill to tackle. He’s physical and shows a penchant for being aggressive to go for the ball. He’s not timid in the slightest when it comes to making a play, whether in the run game or the pass game.

There aren’t many concerns, but I would like to see him wrap up a little better at the point of attack; sometimes he does not use his arms well when tackling and just tries to throw a shoulder into a ball carrier. There are also just some physical limitations with the lack of size; someone listed at 5’10” on recruiting sites (5’11” on Hudl) may be just 5’9″ or so.

Overall, Winston has great film and a good physical profile for the nickel position. I could also see him playing the free safety position. He’s probably undersized to play strong safety or an outside corner position. Either way, Michigan has a very good piece of the defensive puzzle, and Winston could be an early contributor.

Despite Michigan landing some solid players from the D.C. area, Winston would be just the second Gonzaga product to suit up for the Wolverines; the other one is 2023 signee Evan Link, who impressed some practice observers in his redshirt year. Winston is currently the only defensive back committed in the class of 2025.

TTB Rating: 85

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