Gophers safety Antoine Winfield Jr., is one of five finalists named Wednesday for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy.
The annual award from the Football Writers Association of America recognizes the best defensive player in college football. Winfield is up against Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown, Georgia safety J.R. Reed, Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons and Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, with the award decided on Dec. 9.
Winfield leads the team in tackles with 65, including 47 solo. He also ties a school record with seven interceptions this season, which also ranks second in the FBS this year. The fourth-year sophomore has also made two sacks and a pick six. He's just the second Gophers' finalist after defensive back Tyrone Carter in 1999.
The Gophers are 9-1 heading into Northwestern this Saturday, hoping to close out a historic season in the final two regular-season games with a Big Ten championship appearance and possibly Rose Bowl berth.
Several Gophers are also up for national honors, including coach P.J. Fleck as one of 22 semifinalists for the George Munger College Coach of the Year Award, sophomore Rashod Bateman as one of 12 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award for the nation's best receiver, sophomore Tanner Morgan as one of 16 semifinalists for the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback award and defensive end Sam Renner as one of 10 semifinalists for the Burlsworth Trophy given to the best player to start his career as a walk-on.
Additionally, the Gophers will have several representatives at the East-West Shrine Bowl on Jan. 18, 2020. Running back Rodney Smith, cornerback Chris Williamson and receiver Tyler Johnson have all accepted invitations to play in the annual postseason college football all-star game in St. Petersburg, Fla. All are in their senior season with the Gophers.
Senior linebacker Kamal Martin and defensive end Carter Coughlin will also play in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 25, 2020, in Mobile, Ala.