Early Influence: Eric Winston

Before training camps kick off, a number of players and some coaches will pay tribute to people who helped them make it to the NFL as part of the AFC South Blog’s summer series: “Early Influence.”

Eric Winston, Texans right tackle

My high school coach [at Midland Lee High School in Midland, Texas], John Parchman, definitely, I still talk to him to this day. He just retired. He was successful everywhere he went.

“You kind of look back and think, we weren’t that complicate3d, but we got so good at the things we did. We were a big running offense, we had so much success, we won three state championships in four years.

“When I was a 16 year old sophomore coming up, I was 6-5, 230 and had dominated, played well. I was just so much bigger. I was blessed with good coordination still while I was growing that fast. But he really set the bar for me as far as the level of play. He didn’t let me just stay where I was and be OK with being good. It might have been a different set of goals for me, but he really found a way to say you’ve got to keep moving up and find a way to stay on me.

“It was tough, sometimes it was hard. But at the end of the day, he’d always give you a big hug and tell you how proud he was of you and that he loved you. That’s something I’ll never forget as far as raising my kids and dealing with other people: he was fair, he was a guy who never wavered from what he believed in and he really meant everything he said.

“That’s so rare sometimes these days, and it was so special to me.”