Suncoast athlete hopes to continue his family’s legacy of success on the football field

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Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 10:33 AM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Winston Watkins Jr. may only be heading into his junior year of high school at IMG Academy in Bradenton, but his name is already recognized nationally.

He’s one of the best receivers in the entire country and you’ll find him in all the national prospect rankings.

“All my hard work since I was 3 years old paid off and I have to keep working and keep getting better. I am probably the best receiver in the nation, but I want that best player in the nation you know so I have got to keep working. I love the pressure, love the competition,” says Winston.

Billy Miller, who is the head football coach at IMG, says “For a young kid to be laser focused on what he wants to do is special. There is never a dull moment with him. He is full of life full and personality.”

Football isn’t just a game to Winston and his family. His cousin is NFL player and Super Bowl champion Sammy Watkins. Football has given his family opportunities he never would have imagined.

“I just really fell in love with the game and my family is a part of the game and always has been. You have to do it for your people because when you’re tired and you need something to fight for you just think about that person.”

For him, that person is his mother who is his biggest supporter. She lives close to IMG and gets to watch him play.

“It’s a great feeling because before I came to IMG my mom lived here so it was perfect already. She would come to all my home games, and she supports me sitting in the stands.”

Winston is from Fort Myers which is also home to one of the greatest athletes of all time. In college he will be playing under Deion Sanders at the University of Colorado.

“Deion Sanders has been an inspiration to me since I was a kid. He is from the same area as me. We even go to the same barber shop. As a kid they used to call me Winston “Prime Time” Watkins Jr. because they would say I am the next one that is going to make it. He is a big influence on me he is one of the biggest people to come out of my area so it’s just a blessing.’’

Winston and IMG Academy will have their first game of the season on Aug. 18.