Winston and childhood friend Anthony Carpenter are helping change Washington State football.
PULLMAN — Carl Winston and Anthony Carpenter have been friends since they were 6 years old, football teammates just as long.
So who better to ask about Winston, who has put together a solid stretch at running back for Washington State?
“He was a pretty big kid, honestly,” Carpenter said of Winston, who at 5 feet 8 wouldn’t fit anyone’s definition of big nowadays. “He was like a bowling ball. He was just so big he would just run everybody over. Not run past them, run them over.”
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Then Carpenter, a hard-hitting safety, laughed.
“He was like a bowling ball. That’s funny, yeah,” he said again, chuckling.
Despite his height, or maybe because he packs a well-chiseled 200 pounds on his frame, Winston has made his mark during this, his junior year at WSU, by running over defenders. It’s a talent that’s appreciated.
“He finishes his runs really well,” said offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy.
That’s not Winston’s only attribute, according to coach Paul Wulff.
Asked to name his most valuable offensive player during the Cougars’ 3-3 first half of the season, Wulff mentioned wide receiver Marquess Wilson, who is among the nation’s leaders in receiving.
But only after first naming Winston.
“His consistency, and everything, his blocking, his toughness, his physical presence,” Wulff answered when asked why a guy with just 224 yards rushing and no game with more than 47 yards would be his MVP. “It gives us another dimension that helps our team.”
Winston was impressive as a freshman, standing out at preseason camp with his ability to drive tacklers back, gaining 2 or 3 yards out of nothing.
But knee and hamstring injuries stifled him his first two seasons, and he came into this year with just 232 yards on 64 carries.
“I just stayed with it,” he said, “doing all the things I was supposed to do rehabbing, and it’s all paying off.”
Carpenter played with Winston in youth football and at Junipero Serra High in Southern California, and the duo weren’t about to be separated in college.
They have roomed together for three years. Carpenter is a redshirt sophomore.
Who would win if Winston and Carpenter, known for delivering big blows on special teams and as backup safety, collided?
“The funny thing is we’ve never gone head up,” said Winston.
“He does his thing on defense, I do mine on offense.”
Oregon State vs. WSU @ CenturyLink Field, 7:30 p.m., ROOT Sports