Winston Dimel has spent his whole life learning the game of football.
The son of Kansas State assistant coach Dana Dimel, he spent his childhood on the gridiron, studying film and technique with his father and growing into the 6-foot-1, 220-pound frame he has today.
Especially among his school peers, the younger Dimel has all the tools to be a force on the football field. He has superior size and strength, and his knowledge of schemes and techniques make him effective wherever Manhattan High head coach Joe Schartz puts him tonight in the season opener at Mill Valley.
“With Winston being a coach’s son, he has an understanding of the whole picture and some of the things that go on behind the scenes, so he has a great appreciation of the total picture of the program,” Schartz said. “Winston has always been easy to coach because of his understanding of the game.”
His skills on the field caught the eye of college coaches as well. Over the summer he made his commitment to K-State official, choosing the Wildcats over Oklahoma and Arkansas so he could focus on his senior year and avoid the distraction that often comes with the college recruitment process.
Oklahoma offered the chance to play for Bob Stoops, who tried to sell him on the Sooners as they transition to an offense that will feature more reps for fullbacks. Arkansas came into the picture when former K-State assistant Michael Smith took a job with the Razorbacks. Dimel knows Smith well as he dates his daughter, Kylie, who is a freshman at Arkansas this fall.
Ultimately, Dimel said his choice came down to family.
“I wanted to be near my family and I’ve gotten close to most of the players at K-State, so that was another big factor,” he said. “And the chance to be coached by my dad is pretty cool, too.”
Despite playing tight end for most of his high school career, Dimel is widely considered one of the top fullbacks in the class of 2014. Dimel expects to play there at K-State, though his role for the Indians will largely remain the same. Serving as the H-back in Schartz’s offense, Dimel creates holes with his blocking and also serves as a top target in the passing game, though he might get some carries in Manhattan’s flexbone formations as a fullback in short-yardage situations.
“He’s going to play on both sides of the ball this year,” Schartz said. “He’s valuable to us on offense, we use him at that H-back spot. The vast majority of the time, he’s at the point of attack. It’s nice to have that kind of athlete at that spot, which is a key to our offense.”
Dimel will also have to adjust to playing defense regularly. With his size and strength, he will play up front as a defensive end.
“It’s been tough getting in shape,” Dimel said of his preparation to play twice as much this year. “It’s not easy. I’ve been working hard, doing a lot of running to try and get in shape for that. It’s going to be a grind.”
Dimel has had trouble with injuries during his first three years of high school. As a sophomore, he had to surgically repair one of his shoulders, costing him time over the summer before his junior year. He also dealt with an ankle issue that didn’t take him off the field as a junior, but slowed him down for part of the year.
Playing football all his life has mostly been a rewarding experience for Dimel, though he did mention that focusing on football can get old.
“Football has always been a big part of my life, so you get sick of it sometimes,” Dimel said of having a coach as a father. “That’s probably the only disadvantage. It’s football all the time.”
Once he gets to K-State, Dimel expects to have the same chance as any other incoming player to see the field and he’s not expecting any special treatment. In all likelihood, he may have to work harder.
“You’re doing the same thing everybody else is doing, so you have the same chance,” Dimel said. “As long as I work hard and put the time in just like everybody else, I’ll get the chance.”
For now, he hopes to lead the Indians back to the Class 6A playoffs and to the ultimate goal, a state championship, hopefully with father Dana in the stands cheering him on. “He gets to come to the games most of the time,” Dimel said. “But usually every Sunday morning after K-State games, I watch film with him and I just ask questions. Last year, I watched a lot of what Braden (Wilson) did, this year I watch Glenn (Gronkowski) and just learn from that.”
So win or lose on Friday against Mill Valley — streamed live at http://www.themercury.com — Dimel will be ready to keep getting better in the coming week, starting with an early-morning film session with his dad on Sunday.