Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. earned a major conference honor as the first Gophers player to win the Big Ten Conference’s Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year award. The fourth-year sophomore endured back-to-back season-ending injuries ahead of this season.
“He was one of those positive, energetic, high-spirited young men even through his injuries, and constantly, always saw the end destination in mind,” coach P.J. Fleck said on the Big Ten Network. “He knew that he’d be back. He knew he’d be bigger, faster, stronger, be a better player for it. It’s very difficult to have that mind-set.”
Winfield, also an All-Big Ten first-team selection from the coaches and media, led the team with 83 tackles and seven interceptions, adding three sacks, two forced fumbles and a pass breakup. He said on BTN that he was “super excited” for the recognition and also commented on his impending decision on the NFL draft.
Winfield said he was still gathering all the information before making his choice on whether to forgo his final two years of eligibility.
All-Big Ten defensive, special teams and coaches awards were announced Tuesday. Offensive and freshmen awards come Wednesday.
Gophers senior defensive end Carter Coughlin made both second teams with his 44 tackles, including 9½ for a loss and 4½ sacks. He also broke up four passes, pressured the quarterback twice, forced two fumbles and recovered one.
Senior linebacker Kamal Martin, senior defensive tackle Sam Renner and junior cornerback Coney Durr were honorable mentions from the coaches and media. Senior linebacker Thomas Barber and sophomore cornerback Benjamin St-Juste were media honorable mentions.
Senior defensive end Winston DeLattiboudere was the Gophers’ Big Ten Sportsmanship Award winner for his dedication to charity work, including a school supply drive during training camp.