“Allow me to reintroduce myself.” Jay Z said it best but Terrance Winchester, a 6-foot-1 redshirt senior for the 49ers, is reintroducing himself to Niner Nation after missing a good bit of the season due to a lingering shoulder injury.
Winchester, known for his 43-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown against Georgia State last season in the first-ever FBS game for Charlotte, has stolen the term ‘Thieves Ave.’ from the Panthers defense by his play over the last two games. But before his recent outburst on defense, Winchester had to somehow deal with being sidelined for an extended period.
After missing the second game of the season against Elon and then missing the full month of October, Winchester’s role on the team switched from being the a dominant defensive back and the 49ers all-time leader in takeaways and interceptions, to coach Winchester.
“The coaches just told me that you are hurt, it happened, but what can we do to make the best out of this situation. They asked me to coach the guys up and just work on my shoulder,” Winchester said. “I tried to teach the young guys what I know. That’s really it.”
Without Winchester in the secondary, the 49ers went 3-2, showing that he can still make an impact even from the sidelines in street clothes. Coaching up the likes of Denzel Irvin, Ben Deluca and multiple other defensive backs, Winchester could likely be found looking over notes on the sidelines with his group of guys, while also keeping the team morale high with his comedic personality.
Although he enjoyed his time coaching up his teammates, Winchester knew his college career was coming to an end, and standing on the sidelines was not the ideal spot for him to be for the rest of the season.
While not being 100 percent by any means, Winchester and the coaching staff thought that the redshirt senior could still make an impact on defense. So Nov. 5 came against Southern Miss, an almost must-win for the 49ers to keep their goal to going to a bowl game alive.
Winchester did not disappoint in his return.
The Berry Academy product recorded two interceptions in his first game in over a month, snagging one out of the air in the final two minutes to seal the victory for Charlotte over the Golden Eagles.
“I was in game mode,” Winchester said. “I knew the first interception was coming because I knew the play. They put me out wide and it was just me and a receiver. I knew something was coming my way. So I just told myself to make the best of it.”
With his two interceptions on Nov. 5, Winchester became the first Charlotte player in history to have two in one game. “I never paid attention to that type of stat but it happened and it’s pretty cool it was in my name.”
Although the 49ers dropped their last game against the Rice Owls 22-21, Winchester did all he could to help his team win. Winchester read Rice’s quarterback Tyler Stehling like a textbook, intercepting him and taking the ball back 41 yards to the house.
With only two games remaining, Winchester has to remain hot and help lead his young FBS team to their first every bowl game, a goal that he and the rest of the redshirt seniors set as a goal five years ago.