A highly-sought football recruit has passed away.
Devin Winters, a defensive lineman from McDonogh 35 Senior High in New Orleans, had been pursued by both the staff of former Ragin’ Cajuns head coach Mark Hudspeth and the staff of new Cajuns head coach Billy Napier.
It’s known that Winters was a soft commit to Napier’s Cajuns in advance of the NCAA’s Feb. 7 National Signing Day, but that he also was thinking about changing his commitment to SEC-member Ole Miss.
“Very saddened by the unexpected (news),” Hudspeth said in a text message when contacted The Daily Advertiser on Saturday.
Hudspeth, now tight ends coach and associate head coach at Mississippi State, suggested his thoughts were with Winters’ “family and teammates.”
Like Hudspeth’s, Napier’s UL staff was recruiting Winters hard.
According to the recruiting website 247Sports.com, Winters — who received more than a dozen scholarships offers including UL’s along with ones from multiple Power 5 conference programs — was scheduled to visit Syracuse this weekend and Ole Miss, which had been recruiting him aggressively, next weekend.
Circumstances of Winters’ passing have not yet been made public.
But the Twitter account of McDonogh’s football team, nicknamed the Roneagles, posted this message Friday afternoon:
Twitter followers of the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder included Hudspeth, Napier and former Cajuns defensive ends coach Marquasse Lovings.
A scan of Winters’ Twitter timeline tells the story of a recruit in demand.
Just last Monday, he received a home visit from an Ole Miss recruiter.
On Jan. 16, he got a fresh offer from Western Kentucky.
On Dec. 10, another Ole Miss home visit was made.
And on Dec. 6, three days after Hudspeth was fired and while still working for UL at the time, Lovings — who recruited the New Orleans area for Hudspeth’s Cajuns staff — paid a home visit to Winters.
A picture of Winters and Lovings shows the two both make a “UL” hand gesture, with fingers and thumb formed to mimic the letters “U” and “L.”
Back on Aug. 2, Winters tweeted out pictures of offer letters he had received to the points, UL’s among them along with ones from Ole Miss, Tulane and Houston.
The one from UL — which initially offered Winters Feb. 10, shortly after National Signing Day in 2017 had come and gone — was accompanied by the hashtags “#Blessed” and “#GoCajuns.”
Winters also tweeted about having received early offers as well from Kent State, Oregon State, Tulsa, South Alabama, Texas-San Antonio, Alabama-Birmingham, SMU and Cincinnati.
McDonogh teammates reacted Friday on Twitter to Winters’ death, including these two: