How do you top a Class AA state championship season? How do you top being named the game’s most valuable player and being name to the ‘AA’ all-state first team? How do you top being nominated to attend the United States Naval Academy for your academic success?
If you’re Bridgeport High School senior Carson Winkie, you enroll at Harvard and get accepted. For good measure, you become a member of the Harvard’s FBS Ivy League football team.
While the enrollment in the school was already a done deal, becoming a member of the Crimson by signing a national letter of intent Wednesday. The ceremony took place Wednesday inside the school’s library.
“Harvard is known to be one of the best schools in the whole world and I value academics very highly,” said Winkie on why he chose Harvard. “When the opportunity came, I figured it was one I couldn’t pass up and would regret if I didn’t choose it.”
Winkie said he’s had his eye on the school throughout the football season. However, he was waiting for acceptance to one of the most prestigious schools in the nation and, as mentioned above, the world.
“I knew throughout the season if I got accepted, I would have the opportunity to play football,” said Winkie. “Their football coaches had been in contact with me. It was nice to see everything come together.”
Bridgeport High School Coach John Cole said none of this surprises him about Winkie not only tackling the academic side of Harvard but taking on the duties to also be a member of the football team.
“Just getting into the school is tough and rigorous, let alone to do that and be on the football team … Just getting accepted is a heck of an accomplishment,” said Cole. “He’s graduating to a higher level of academics and sports, which will take a ton of time.
“The thing with Carson is he’s a focused young mon who will move his focus to excelling in school and football because he made the commitment. That alone tells you what type of kid he is,” Cole continued. “I’m highly confident he can handle it. He’s the type of kid if he didn’t think he was unable to handle it he wouldn’t do it. Academics are first with Carson and his family. When he sets his mind to something, he succeeds.”
This past season, Winkie set his mind on helping Bridgeport get back to Wheeling Island. He hit the weight room and put on 20 pounds of muscle and became the leader on defense and a mid-season move to tailback helped him become an unstoppable offensive force.
By season’s end, Winkie led the Indians with 96 tackles. That number could have been higher had it not been for Bridgeport’s ball control offense that kept teams off the field in a recipe aimed at winning.
It’s one the defensive side of the ball where Winkie will likely contribute to Harvard. He said the coaches have him playing at linebacker or defensive end.
As for offensive numbers his senior season, Winkie carried the ball 211 times for 1,129 yards and 18 touchdowns. Winkie did not lose a yard all year and the bulk of those yards came from the Tribe’s mid-season win against North Marion on. He also had 200 yards rushing on a Super Six record 43 carries in the 21-14 Class AA title win against Bluefield.
“We knew Carson always had potential when he came in as a freshman, but as coaches you determine how good they are by how the progress. It’s hard to argue Carson didn’t progress into one of the best in the state and, the thing is, and this isn’t an insult, he’s not a great athlete,” said Cole. “What you saw out there was the result of hard work and dedication. He’s a driven young man that serves as an example to everyone in our program what hard work can do for you.
“The thing is he dominated in all three phases of the game and rose his game to a different level on the field than most that’s ever played here,” Cole continued. “People saw the tackles and his running. What they didn’t see and have no idea about is the responsibilities he was given by the coaches and the latitude he was given because he excelled mentally and physically. He’s a special player that deserves this because he earned it.”
Winkie said the chance to play football was another big reason to opt to go to Harvard as opposed to the Naval Academy. Plus, there was a family reason as well.
“Obviously, both schools are vey well known and have great reputations. I just thought with football and my brother being up in Boston right now, taking all that into account, it made the decision easier,” said Winkie.
Winkie’s brother Mitchell is not just in Boston. Mitchell is a student at the Harvard Medical School and will be on the same campus at least through Carson’s junior year.
“It’s cool having him there. I know if I need him, he’ll be there and if he needs me then I’m right there,” said Winkie.
As for his own studies, Winkie isn’t quite sure where he’s heading. He’s leaning toward pre-med classes but plans on taking introductory courses to see if something sparks and interest to help choose a major.