Height/Weight: 6-foot-2, 190 pounds
Hometown/High School: Hyattsville, MD (DeMatha Catholic)
Ranking: ★★★ (0.8678 247Sports Composite — No. 646 Overall)
Notable Offers: Maryland, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Virginia Tech
Penn State offered KJ Winston in May of 2020. With that offer the Nittany Lions immediately became one of the top schools in Winston’s recruitment as James Franklin and company quickly began to turn up the heat on Winston.
When Anthony Poindexter came on as Penn State’s new safety coach this past offseason Penn State’s safety board changes. One thing that remained was Winston being one of Poindexter’s top targets.
Entering the summer the Nittany Lions appeared to lead for Winston but official visits were going to be key. After a strong OV in early June it was clear the Nittany Lions had positioned themselves as the team to beat. After surviving a strong OV to Maryland and Winston canceling his OV to Notre Dame, the Nittany Lions were able to win out in this recruitment.
Winston is a player who is likely in line for a big ratings bump this season. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Winston played just a three game spring season. This did not give him much of an opportunity to put the film together needed to earn a ratings bump. That should happen this fall.
Winston is a plus athlete who reads and reacts well on defense. He does a good job of finding the ball and getting to it. Winston moves well in his backpedal and can quickly turn that into jumping routes. He has a knack for breaking up passes and could be a real ball hawk for the Nittany Lions.
His tackling could use some work. Winston often times tackles too high or leads with his shoulder. Before he delves into Big Ten play he will need to work with Poindexter on making sure he wraps up better when tackling. The fact he does not shy away from contact is a bonus, though.