Claeys making the golden tickets rain.
The Woodlands (TX) HS defensive back Antoine Winfield, Jr. committed to the Golden Gophers tonight, becoming the 20th prospect of the 2016 class, and 5th commitment of the weekend. The son of former Buckeye and Vikings legend Antoine Winfield, Jr. ranks as a 3 star prospect according the the 247 Industry Composite, choosing Minnesota over listed offers from Northwestern, Missouri, Purdue, Houston, and SMU. Winfield's commitment is a yet another homecoming, as he played football at Eden Prairie while his father was playing for the Vikings; Jr. is close friends with Carter Coughlin (because everyone is).
Minnesota has the 32nd ranked class according to the 247Sports Industry Composite, good for 7th in the Big Ten.
Ryan Burns with Antoine on why he committed to Minnesota ($):
"I actually made the decision last week," Texas corner Antoine Winfield Jr. said to GopherDigest. "I knew after I visited Minnesota in the summer that it was the place I wanted to play, but I wanted to play my senior season out and focus on my team, so when my season ended, I started to re-focus on recruiting and I decided that I was going to commit this weekend." Winfield spoke with two Gopher coaches about his decision.
"I talked with defensive backs coach Jay Sawvel and head coach Tracy Claeys when I committed," Winfield told GopherDigest. "Coach Sawvel was excited to have me on-board and he sees me as a corner, or maybe even a nickle corner next year for him. He loves my football IQ and how I can use my speed. Coach Claeys was also really excited that I decided to commit, so I'm really happy to be a Gopher tonight."
Film room review from Gopher247's Will Henry ($):
Winfield Jr. is a blur, will be the fastest player on the roster when he steps on campus. He uses that speed to be a valuable run defender, coming downhill and cutting off running lanes. Won't have problems handling smaller, shiftier receivers. Will have some development transitioning from an off-ball safety to corner in Minnesota's scheme, but has the raw tools to be an impact all-around player going forward.
(Likely Fraudulent) Measurables**
** The section title is a bit. It's an intentionally facetious comment on how recruiting sites (and even some college coaches) notoriously exaggerate traditional combine measures -- especially the 40. No offense is meant.
Height: 5' 9.5"
Weight: 183 lbs.
Fake 40 Time: 4.35s electronic
Big 4 Ratings:
Senior year highlights:
THE EMPIRE CLASS
Carter Coughlin: Heat Seeking Linebacker/Cyborg
Consensus 4 Star. Selected to The Opening and the Army All-American game. Whirling death machine at OLB. The lynchpin of The Empire Class.
THE EMPIRE CLASS
Jr. has three plus-plus attributes as a defensive back which will get him on the field sooner rather than later: blazingly fast speed, an aggressive tackling mentality, and strong football intelligence. He's able to read and diagnose plays quickly from the high safety position, then uses his speed to come downhill in a hurry to plant the running back or receiver. He takes great angles, can sniff out screens, and also has enough recovery speed to catch up on play-action. He'll be a weapon in the nickel on the blitz and in off-zone coverage, much like Coney Durr. He'll need to work on his man-to-man skills (like Durr) and footwork.
Impact on Other Prospects?
Winfield's commitment likely slams the door shut on additional CBs for this class, especially a JUCO CB like Elijah Battle. Look for the staff to backfill the safety position with one more JUCO prospect, most notably Kris Weatherspoon.