For the second consecutive season, Gophers standout safety Antoine Winfield Jr. suffered season-ending injury against Maryland.
Gophers coach P.J. Fleck announced Sunday afternoon that Winfield, a third-year sophomore, will miss the remainder of the season because of a left foot injury suffered early in Saturday’s game against Maryland. He will undergo surgery on Monday.
The Gophers will seek a waiver from the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility for Winfield.
“We are heartbroken for Antoine,’’ Fleck said in a statement. “Like Rodney Smith, I know he will keep his oar in the water, keep moving forward and will work tirelessly to return to the field next season. We believe Antoine meets the waiver requirement for a sixth year of eligibility and we will file that waiver with the NCAA at the conclusion of the season.’’ If the waiver is granted, Winfield would have three years of eligibility remaining -- 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Smith, a senior running back, suffered a torn anterior cruciate knee ligament on Sept. 8 against Fresno State and was lost for the season.
Winfield was injured on the eighth play from scrimmage. He was not involved in contact on the play but came up hobbling and was tended to on the field by trainers. He walked off on his own power, was examined on the sideline and had his left foot taped. But he did not return to the game, which Maryland won 42-13.
Winfield, who had one tackle in the game, entered Saturday with 16 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. He had two highlight-reel plays during the nonconference season – a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown against New Mexico State and the game-clinching interception in the end zone against Fresno State. Both plays helpe earn Winfield a weekly Big Ten player of the week honor.