ALCOA, Tenn. (WATE) – Brandon Winton has always been ahead of his time. He started playing football in pads at 5 years old. Most kids start when they’re eight. 

“Every time I got out of school, I knew my dad would be on his way to take me to football practice and I’d be ready,” said Winton. “As soon as he got outside, I’d be ready to go.”

So while most kids leave home after high school, Winton did so after his sophomore year at Webb, moving to South Florida to train at IMG Academy. 

“It was the first time being by myself, so just me being a 17-year-old kid, I grew up a lot and I experienced a lot early,” said Winton.

But that experience wasn’t everything Winton thought it would be.

“All my life I’ve been the kid in the spotlight, so when I went there last year, that kind of humbled me too because, at the next level, it’s not going to always be like that,” said Winton. “So just me being back home, playing in front of my people, the people I grew up around, it feels good.”

Winton transferred to Alcoa last year and immediately made an impact, helping bring home the Tornadoes’ first basketball state championship in over 50 years.

“A guy like him comes in, it’s not just your everyday,” said Alcoa football head coach Brian Nix. “He’s taking someone’s shots, he’s taking someone’s minutes. If that’s not a good teammate, that could fracture your team and it really unified our team. I think it would be difficult to win a state championship without him.”

Winton now has his eyes set on his second ring in Alcoa, and the football program’s ninth straight, by being a leader both on and off the field.

“He’s just a likable kid,” said Nix. ” He comes in the front door every day and hugs our secretary. Playing like he does, playing hard, trying to make himself better. I think it’s a great example for the young kids that he’s trying to get better at practice and he’s taking coaching. I think it shows them that if you want to play at his level, you better do the same thing.”

“Any team I’ve been on, I’ve always been looked to be the leader,” said Winton. “So me coming from that school, everybody got their eyes on me so anything I do they’re going to follow and lead behind, so that’s why I just try to be an example every day.”

Winton may have left IMG, but he won’t be staying away from South Florida for long as the senior is committed to USF. That’s where former Vol offensive coordinator Alex Golesh is now the Head Coach.