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EXCLUSIVE: K.J .Winston discusses mentorship with Ji’Ayir Brown

K.J. Winston relied on Ji’Ayir Brown’s wisdom during his freshman year.

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Penn State football, Josh Johnson, 2025 recruiting, defensive back
Sep 2, 2023; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers running back Jaylen Anderson (0) tries to avoid a tackle from Penn State Nittany Lions safety Kevin Winston Jr. (21) during the first quarter at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sp

One of the surprises of the West Virginia game was when the starting lineups were announced and Kevin (K.J.) Winston Jr. was named as a starter at safety. Winston has impressed several of his teammates and was a standout during the Blue-White game this Spring. He continues to take strides and will be a staple in the secondary for Penn State football this fall. In our exclusive interview as part of the new HVU On-Demand series, safety K.J. Winston explained that he looked up to Ji’Ayir Brown as a mentor during his Penn State career.

K.J. Winston discusses mentorship with Ji’Ayir Brown

K.J. Winston took the field Saturday night with big shoes to fill. After Ji’Ayir Brown left State College to enter the NFL draft, where he now plays for the San Fransico 49ers. But before Brown left to pursue his dream Winston Jr made sure that he took advantage of the time he spent with Brown.

When asked who Winston looked up to told us, “I’d say Ji’Ayir Brown, last year you know he’s on the 49ers now. He’s a great player, a great brother. You know coming in he took me under his wing and then from the day I met him I felt like I’ve known him for a long time. So, he taught me a lot about the game. And as a person, how to go about my business and everything. Told me the way he went about things wrong in his past and kind of telling me not to take that route. So, honestly, just with him being around him all of the time, every game we went to home or away I was his roommate. The night before the games he would talk to me about ball and see where my head is at. So, he was really a mentor for me last year.”

The Penn State football defense relied on Ji’Ayir Brown heavily during the 2021 and 2022 seasons. But the secondary is in great hands now with Jaylen Reed, K.J. Winston, Zakee Wheatley, and Keaton Ellis. Also, be sure to keep an eye on true freshman King Mack, as he is a player who has received the green light from James Franklin.

Exclusive player insights, presented by HVU On-Demand

If you enjoyed this sit-down interview with K.J. Winston, stay tuned for more exclusive player insights throughout the 2023 season as part of the newly launched HVU On-Demand platform. Our brand-new partnership between Happy Valley United and College Football Hall of Famer LaVar Arrington’s media company, Up on Game, will unlock original video content, authentic podcasts, exclusive news, and more to all members of the collective. In addition, portions of this exclusive content will be made available free to you right here on Basic Blues Nation.

This initiative aims to promote NIL opportunities for the over 800 Penn State student-athletes represented by Happy Valley United and provide you with exclusive behind-the-scenes insights from your favorite Nittany Lions.

To learn more and donate, please visit Happy Valley United’s website. We Are!



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Former Editor-In-Chief at Victory Bell Rings, Morgan is the current Site Manager for Basic Blues Nation, host of the Basic Blues Podcast, and co-host of the weekly Penn State Roar Room spaces. Morgan lives in upstate New York with his wife and cats.

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