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Aaron Winchester Embraces New Football Journey At CCSU

Daniel Fappiano, Layout Editor

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As then Georgia State quarterback coach Luke Huard watched little-known prospect Aaron Winchester outperform passers with numerous Division I offers at a summer recruiting camp, he knew he was watching a future starter.

“It wasn’t even close,” Huard said.

With Winchester arriving to Central Connecticut as a graduate-transfer, Huard, the man who originally recruited the future Blue Devil, says Central landed a true play-maker.

“He’ll be a fierce, courageous competitor. Anytime the ball is in his hands, a big play could be made,” Huard said. “I think the CCSU fans will see an exciting player that is going to give everything he’s got on Saturdays. Central Connecticut hit a home run.”

Winchester spent four seasons at Georgia State, appearing in 15 games and starting three. In that time, he completed 61 passes for 721 yards and a five-to-four touchdown-to-interception ratio. He also rushed for 405 yards and three scores on 102 carries.

Despite former head coach Pete Rossomando’s departure to Rutgers, Winchester says he is fully committed to CCSU.

“I still plan on attending Central,” Winchester said. “As I went through the process, I knew not to commit to coaches. Coaches change, other opportunities come up. I committed to the school. I’m still on my way up there.”

Winchester says he was not shocked by Rossomando’s departure, as he knew the former head coach would be in high demand due to his ability to recruit and coach. With Rossomando out of the picture, the Georgia native says he is more than happy with former offensive coordinator Ryan McCarthy’s promotion to interim head coach.

“Coach McCarthy was actually the one who recruited me,” Winchester said. “Having him get promoted to the head job gives me even more reason to attend CCSU. He was the first to reach out to me, I’m good with it.”

With former quarterback Jacob Dolegala graduating, Winchester will have an opportunity to replace Central’s all-time record holder for passing yards and touchdowns. Replicating Dolegala’s production will be no easy task, but Winchester’s former position coach thinks he has all the tools to succeed.

“Aaron is an incredibly competitive guy. He has tremendous character and work ethic,” Huard said. “He’s a guy who can run, he’s athletic and both mentally and physically tough. He can take a hit, jump right up and keep playing hard. Aaron loves football and works hard at it, I loved his mental and physical attributes.”

Winchester’s ability to make plays with his feet will bring an entirely different dynamic to Central’s offense. In Dolegala’s four years as a starter, the quarterback ran for just 452 yards, with 274 of them coming as a senior. Winchester says that his run game should help keep the defense honest.

“I think it helps a lot,” Winchester said. “As far as the defensive scheme goes, they have to account for the quarterback being able to use his feet and make plays in the running game and passing game.”

Winchester notes that while his running ability is a strength, he is trying to become a more well-rounded quarterback.

“I’ve been trying to turn my game into a pocket guy who can also run, not just a guy who can run and throw,” Winchester said. “That’s really the next step and I think that CCSU can help me with that.”

With Winchester’s arrival and Dolegala’s departure, the Blue Devils currently have five quarterbacks on the roster. However, only Winchester and senior Tanner Kingsley have made collegiate starts. As Winchester transferred to CCSU, McCarthy told the school’s Athletics Department that his experience will be key.

“He is a dual-threat quarterback that brings experience, maturity and athletic ability to the QB room,” McCarthy said. “We are very excited to have Aaron.”

Winchester was voted a team captain by his teammates during the 2018 season. His leadership was something that stood out to Huard during his time at Georgia State.

“There’s nothing phony about him. He’s a very genuine guy,” Huard said. “He knows how to hold guys accountable but at the same time stay positive. He knows the fine line on when to push a teammate and when to put his arm around them. He checks all the boxes in terms of leading by example, encouragement and accountability. He’s a natural leader as far as how he interacts with his teammates and how genuine he truly is.”

For Winchester, coming to CCSU from Georgia State means leaving his home town and traveling almost 1000 miles. However, the former Panther feels that Central is the perfect school for him.

“When I got to CCSU on my visit, I just felt like everybody was real. I think Central’s staff and players were very upfront and honest about what CCSU is,” Winchester said. “As far as football goes, I think they’re honest about having me compete for the job and not just guaranteeing me a spot. I felt like that was important to me, to go to a coaching staff and a team where I have to earn everything I get.”

The idea of having to earn a role has been an essential part of Winchester’s career. He describes himself as a “blue collar worker” and said “I just want the fans to know that football is an obsession of mine. Most of my craft and most of what I do comes from hard work. I want them to see that I don’t give blame. I take all the blame and give all the credit.”

Huard says Winchester’s desire to earn anything given to him dates back to their time together at GSU.

“I know when he gets there those players will gravitate towards him, just by the way he works and the way he carries himself,” Huard said. “I think for (CCSU) it’s a great get because he’s a good learner and will adapt to whatever system is run. He has good football knowledge and understanding. Aaron figured out things pretty fast, if he didn’t have it figured out, he was going to work until he excelled at it.”

Ever since recruiting him in 2015, Huard has been a fan of Winchester. While his mental toughness and psychical specimen stand out, he says it is Winchester’s play-making ability that will set him apart.

“He’s got very good arm strength and can make all the throws. When plays breakdown, he has a really good feel of the pocket, making guys miss and get yards that maybe weren’t by design,” Huard said. “CCSU can expect a guy who is going to go out there and give that offense big play potential on any snap.”

On a new team, in a new state, Winchester is about to embark on a new football journey. With a new head coach and a new quarterback in place, Central Connecticut football is about to begin a new era. As Winchester steps on campus, he is excited to help the Blue Devils win another Northeast Conference title.

“I’m looking forward to getting to work with the guys,” Winchester said. “I know they had a chance to to win the conference championship against Duquesne last season and obviously they won the NEC the year before. As far as an individual standpoint, I’m just trying to help this team as much as I possibly can to reach that goal again.”

About the Writer
Daniel Fappiano, Layout Editor

Daniel Fappiano can be reached at dfappiano@centralrecorder.org.

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Aaron Winchester Embraces New Football Journey At CCSU