Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Call it a cornball story if you want

Lovingly lifted from NewsOk(dot)com, from 1984~

Success? Yes Sir, He Wears It Well
Bob Hersom Published: September 20, 1984 12:00 AM CDT

When you look at Mike Winchester, with his closely-cropped hair, you think of Marines and Green Berets.

When you listen to Winchester, with his yes sirs and his no sirs, you think of Boy Scouts and little old ladies being helped across the street.

And when you hear Winchester's story, which would be rags-to-riches except that he didn't even have any rags at the beginning, you think of The American Dream.

You think of the cliches about patience being a virtue and dreams coming true, because they fit Mike Winchester. Call it a cornball story if you want. But it's true.

If you follow the Oklahoma Sooner football team you know about Mike Winchester, redshirt sophomore punter. After two games, his 43.2-yard average leads the Big Eight and ranks 19th nationally. His "hang time" has allowed only seven of 13 punts to be returned for only 17 yards, a net punting average of 41.9, which ranks 14th in the nation.

You could call him an overnight success, except that "overnight" has been two years.

Two years ago, fresh out of Marietta High School, Winchester walked on to the OU squad, wearing his own equipment. He used one year of eligibility by punting for the junior varsity squad in 1982, the last season OU fielded a jayvee team.

Last year wasn't much better. OU had signed punter Darren Atyia of Seminole to a scholarship, so Winchester languished on the bench, wearing a No. 40 Sooner jersey, the same number issued to freshman defensive end Darrell Reed. Though Winchester was in his second year at OU he was not listed in the media guide. It was, in effect, his redshirt season. But it isn't a good sign in college football when your name comes under "duplicate numbers."

"It didn't bother me that much," Winchester said, "because I didn't come up here with the idea that I would jump right into a position. I thought it would take a couple years or so if I was to ever get a chance."

It did.

"There were times when I felt like leaving," he said, "when I didn't think I was going to get a chance, but I was still No. 2 and there has been many a walk-on who has come up here and left and never made it to No. 2. That's the reason I stayed, because the door was open for me, I felt. It just gave me enough hope to stay."

This season started much the same way for Winchester. He was assigned a different duplicate: No. 22. Winchester seemed to have as much chance of playing for the Sooners in '84 as their last No. 22, Marcus Dupree.
"It's always been a dream of mine to play here. I just wanted to try," Winchester said. "You have five years to play four. I came up and walked on and if I hadn't had a shot, if it hadn't been close, then I would have gone to a small college somewhere. But I didn't have any other offers. Your high school coach has to send out letters and I told him not to worry about sending any letters because I was coming up here.

Michael Winchester was murdered this week at his job site, Will Rogers World airport in OKC:  He leaves behind a wife and 6 children, including Kansas City Chief's punter, James Winchester, also an OU Graduate.

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