Woodbury's Winter is a rare blend of talent

  • Article by: AARON PAITICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 21, 2013 - 12:19 AM

Woodbury’s Ryan Winter looks forward to playing two sports at St. Thomas.

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Ryan Winter excelled as a defensive end in football and a leadoff hitter and center fielder in baseball at Woodbury.

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There aren’t a lot of baseball leadoff hitters and center fielders who fit the typical mold of a college football defensive end.

That’s a stereotype Woodbury’s Ryan Winter is hoping to break.

“I don’t see many defensive linemen that play baseball,” said Winter, an incoming University of St. Thomas recruit in both sports. “If they do, they’re usually DH, not leadoff.”

The 6-3, 240-pounder is not only a physical presence, but he’s uncommonly fast, too.

“He’s a huge kid,” Woodbury baseball coach Kevin McDermott said. “A man amongst boys.”

Winter’s physical makeup has made offensive coordinators fear him and catchers keep a close eye on him.

“He’s a special player — a rare combination of speed and power,” McDermott said.

Oh, and by the way, he played hockey, too. While three-sport high school athletes are becoming less common, three-sport college athletes are virtually extinct. Winter admits that adding a third sport at the next level would be a bit much.

“I mean, I’d love to. I just don’t think it would work,” he said with a laugh.

But he will be able to play football and baseball in college, which coaches at St. Thomas encouraged.

Winter was named second-team all-state in football. He had 13 forced fumbles and 27½ sacks in his final two seasons at Woodbury. He was clocked at 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He’s mastered the art of base stealing.

“He really gets after it on the bases, and he’s a smart kid on top of it all,” McDermott said.

McDermott had no problem giving Winter the green light on the bases. Winter had no problem taking advantage of it.

“I’m confident out there,” Winter said. “I know I’m not going to get thrown out.”

Winter will be suiting up for the three-time defending MIAC champion Tommies football team. The school made it all the way to the NCAA Division III national championship game last season, where it fell to Mount Union, a D-III dynasty.

The Tommies baseball program has a strong pedigree as well, having captured 11 consecutive MIAC championships along with national titles in 2001 and 2009.

Winter hopes to compete for a spot right away on the Tommies’ defensive line. The baseball lineup might be a bit tougher to crack, but his speed may force the coaches to use him off the bench.

McDermott certainly will miss having him in the lineup and on the basepaths. He knows the coaches at St. Thomas will enjoy working with him.

“He’s a fun kid to coach because he can change the game,” McDermott said.

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