LAS VEGAS -- As San Jose State wide receiver Tyler Winston experienced a breakout freshman season, he maintained a presence that was mostly in the background.

Winston, who was named the Mountain West Freshman of the Year after catching 58 passes for 858 yards and five touchdowns, never did a postgame interview. He spoke after practice a couple of times, but he mostly let other players do the talking.

It's not because he's not necessarily comfortable doing so. Winston, from Antelope in the Sacramento area, is soft, but well-spoken. But it was a specific plan by him to stay out of the limelight and let players such as seniors David Fales and Chandler Jones be the offensive spokesmen.

"I felt like they were more of the leaders of the team," Winston said. "They went through starting from the bottom, so they deserved to speak on how we performed."

Now, with veteran receivers like Jones, Noel Grigsby and Kyle Nunn having graduated, Winston is accepting his new role in the spotlight and feeling more comfortable as a team leader.

"I feel like just having a good season like I did last year, I feel more comfortable stepping into that leader role," Winston said.

Winston said work over the summer was productive and he generally got in about 30 minutes to an hour worth of throwing in daily with the quarterbacks. He had good things to say about both Blake Jurich and Joe Gray.


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"They both have good arm strength, a lot of accuracy," Winston said. "I'm just excited to see who it's going to be."

Winston and Gray got a chance to get well-acquainted last year. With Winston slated to redshirt, he spent most of his work during fall camp with the third and fourth teams, the same spot Gray often got repetitions. So if Gray's the starter, the two may have an extra leg up on building a good relationship on the field.

"I think it does help because me and him worked together a lot last camp, so we started to become familiar and comfortable with each other," Winston said.