Jacob Winters has been playing football since the second grade, and he’s always played quarterback at a very high level.
Now a sixth grader at River Valley Middle School in Bidwell, Ohio, Winters is making an impact as an offensive lineman this season. The position switch doesn’t mean he no longer likes playing QB.
“This season has been different,” Winters said. “I have to play on the offensive line because we have a weight limit of 130 pounds and I am currently 5-foot-8 and weigh 145 pounds.”
As a natural quarterback who has grown to appreciate the protection provided by his offensive line, Winters is actually enjoying his temporary shift to the trenches.
“Playing the line has taught me to appreciate the guys up front a lot more in what they do,” he said. “I have learned so much about blocking schemes and that will definitely help me out in the future in understanding what goes on up front. And by not playing quarterback this year, it’s allowed other guys the opportunity to get reps running the football which will help our team in the future.”
While he played on the line for the River Valley Raiders and helped pave the way to 4 wins in the first 5 games, Winters has kept his quarterback skills sharp.
“I have had the opportunity to be the scout team quarterback for River Valley High School this year, so I have been working on my accuracy and velocity,” he said. “If I can make the throws now against a high school defense, I definitely will be able to compete as a freshmen in high school. I have also had the opportunity to be the signal guy for our high school team and that has tremendously helped me understand the whys and hows behind our offense.”
Training with NFA the past two years and learning the R4 System has also helped Winters understand what it takes to run an offense. “I’m working to improve in all areas,” he said. “Specifically, at the high school level, my dad (Chuck Winters) is the offensive coordinator and we have implemented the R4 system. I have been studying it and preparing myself for junior high.”
Winters will return to quarterback in junior high next season, and he can’t wait to get back under center. “I like playing QB because I get the opportunity to help my teammates achieve their goals,” he said. “We do a thing at my school where every time we get a break we say ‘family,’ and I think my teammates are my family. By being in this position, it allows me to help them achieve their goals. Playing QB has a lot of responsibilities that I enjoy having. I love competition and the ability to lead.”
Winters’ love of competition has been quite evident the past two summers at the Duel, NFA’s showcase event. Before his fifth grade season, he finished third. This year, Winters delivered another third-place finish.
“My goal at the Duel was to compete with the best quarterbacks around the country, to continue to learn and of course, win it,” Winters said. “I feel pretty good about how I did and I know I have to continue to get better every day.”
Even though he played line this season, Winters improved himself as a quarterback. “Not getting to play QB this year was disappointing, but with the success I had at the Duel it has helped me to assist the younger quarterbacks on our team,” he said.
Training with NFA and coaches like Andy Hall and his father Chuck, who is recently certified, has also helped Winters become a better quarterback. “I want to thank NFA for everything that I have learned up to this point,” he said. “My goal is to play college football some day and with the fundamentals and techniques I have learned, it will help me achieve this dream of mine.”