As Michigan State commit Donovan Winter approaches National Signing Day on Feb. 1, he remains somewhat of a mystery man in the Spartans’ 2017 class.
He’s on the group chat with his fellow commits and has gotten to know them that way, but living in Orlando kept him from getting up to any Spartans games this fall. He’s only met fellow Floridian (and another 3-star defensive end commit) Lashawn Paulino-Bell in person.
Don’t mistake that for nonchalance about his commitment status. Winter calls Michigan State his dream school and explained that he would visit more if his schedule and the distance made it more feasible.
But before he gets up to East Lansing, let’s figuratively take you down to Orlando to get to know a few of the Bishop Moore Catholic defensive end’s quirks, interests and talents.
Q: The question I always start off with: What would you do if you won $1 million?
Winter: “I would help out my family. I would help out my dad (former NFL lineman Blaise Winter), my brother, everyone in my family, share it a little bit. I’m not really a selfish person where I keep everything to myself. I love helping others. That’s probably what I would do, and then the leftovers, use myself, I guess.”
Q: So what would be your gift to yourself with the leftovers?
Winter: “I would probably love to go to Europe or somewhere fun, get a nice house, take my family on a vacation, stuff like that.”
Q: You mentioned Europe. Have you been outside the country before?
Winter: “I have. I’ve been outside the country a couple times. I’ve been on many vacations with my family to Jamaica, all over Mexico, South America, everywhere. My mom says I’ve been outside the United States probably more than in the United States.”
Q: Is there a spot in Europe or anywhere else that sticks out as somewhere you’d want to visit?
Winter: “I don’t know exactly. I would love to visit France and go see the Eiffel Tower. That would be really cool. If you really want to keep going, I’d love to visit China and see the Great Wall. Maybe go to Australia, go surfing or something because I’ve always wanted to go there. I’m a huge animal lover, so I’ve always wanted to see some sharks or something really cool down in that area.”
Q: As an animal lover, what kinds of things have you done with animals on these trips?
Winter: “That’s what I probably want to do in college. I’ve been thinking about doing something with animals like zoology or marine biology. I’ve been still trying to figure it out. But I haven’t really done anything with animals so far besides (when) we went on safaris and stuff like that through the jungle areas. I rode an elephant, stuff like that. That was really cool.”
Q: Do you have any idea what you might want to do with a zoology or marine biology major after college?
Winter: “I have a huge dream. First, my dream was to go to Michigan State. It’s my dream school ever since I was four years old. That was my first big dream, to play football there. My second dream is to play in the NFL, of course. And then my third dream, believe it or not, is to own a zoo, to own an aquarium or something like that. I just want to own something big just to show myself that I took college seriously and college got me somewhere that I love.”
Q: Do you have any pets?
Winter: “Yeah, I do. I own cat. I’ve had him since I was like four years old. I also own three rats. Yes, I own three rats. A lot of people think I’m a crazy person for owning three rats, but yes, I’m an animal lover. I’ve always loved small rodents, stuff like that.”
Q: How does that work? Can you just buy rats at a pet store?
Winter: “You just go to the pet store. I got them when they were really little and raised them all the way up. I’ve had them for like a year now. I just trained them and did experimental things. It’s really cool to see how smart a rat is, let them run through mazes, do obstacles. My oldest one can actually fetch. I trained them ever since they were really little.”
Q: Are they typically caged animals or can they just roam around your house?
Winter: “They’re caged. My mom would flip out if my rats would run around the house.”
Q: Did you have any pets before them?
Winter: “When I was younger, I had frogs, tortoises, lizards, snakes. I’ve had everything. When I lived in Wisconsin, I had so many animals. When I was 11, my whole entire room was just filled with cages everywhere, mammals to reptiles to fish to everything.”
Q: Do you have any siblings?
Winter: “I have an older brother (Cordell). He’s 20 years old.”
Q: Does he play football as well?
Winter: “He used to play football. He got hurt way too many times, and he just moved on to his other specialty, which is music. He’s amazing, just amazing, at music. He plays piano, drums, guitar, sings. He’s in a band right now, on tour. That’s what he does. He’s kind of the opposite of me. He’s the musician of the family.”
Q: Are you a big music guy as well?
Winter: “I am. When I was 10, 11, 12 years old, I played drums. I still play today. I’ve been playing drums for about eight years now, on and off. That’s another big specialty I have besides football, but (Cordell) took a lot bigger step than I did. I went after football, and he went after music.”
Q: Would you guys team up and jam out when you were younger?
Winter: “I had a band when I was younger, Sticks and Stones. I was the drummer for it until I moved on. I played for gigs, made money doing gigs and playing music. That was a lot of fun.”
Q: Was it at restaurants and bars and stuff like that?
Winter: “It was restaurants, bars, and I played at Summerfest when I was younger, played some festivals when we got really good.”
Q: Do you still play drums at all in your spare time?
Winter: “I do. I’ve got a 9-kit PDP (Pacific Drums and Percussion) in my basement. I rock out on that sometimes when I don’t have anything else to do.”
Q: Growing up around music, what are your tastes?
Winter: “I’ve been listening to a lot of Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, a lot of the old classics. I’m also into some punk like Green Day and Rancid, and I’m also into some rap. I’m into a huge majority of music.”
Q: Do you have a go-to before a game to get hyped up?
Winter: “About two hours before a game, I listen to rap. About 30 minutes before a game, I start listening to some heavy music, some metal to heavy metal. That really gets me into the mood of playing.”
Q: Are there any other interesting hidden talents that people would be surprised to hear about you?
Winter: “I longboard, too. I did some longboard specialties. That’s just something down south. That and surfing.”
Q: The longboarding and surfing, did that ever get competitive? Have you ever been in competitions for that stuff?
Winter: “My brother has; I haven’t. I’ve never really been to massive competitions on that. I just kind of took that as a talent towards me. I’ve always wanted to do competitions, but I never had time to.”