Normally we don’t spend a lot of time on college football awards watch lists here at TDG. The reason is simple. Until the finalists are announced the watch lists don’t really mean anything. And recently, Minnesota Golden Gophers players aren’t usually on the final lists. All of that changed today as Antoine Winfield Jr. was named as finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, given each year to the best defensive player in college football.
Along with @CTouchdownClub and @LendingTree, @TheFWAA is proud to unveil the five finalists for the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, given to college football's National Defensive Player of the Year https://t.co/e1TLkwpc6o pic.twitter.com/T8FSA2mYIS— Nagurski Trophy (@NagurskiTrophy) November 20, 2019
This is a big deal and Winfield is a great candidate given the season he is having. He is second nationally in interceptions with 7 (two returned for touchdowns). Those interceptions also represent a school record and half of the Gophers 14 on the year (which leads the Big Ten and is 3rd nationally across all teams). Antoine also leads Minnesota in total tackles (65, 47 solos) and has two sacks on the year. Winfield joins Tyrone Carter (in 1999) as one of only two Minnesota Gophers named as a Nagurski finalist.
Here are the 4 other finalists:
- Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
- J.R. Reed, S, Georgia
- Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
- Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
You have to think that Winfield is a bit of a long shot to win the award given the profile of the programs the other finalists play for (and given that Chase Young was getting Heisman final ballot talk prior to his recent two game suspension). Obviously having a Gopher win the award named after a Minnesota legend would be incredible. But no matter what, this is an honor that recognizes the amazing year he’s having and his impact on this amazing season for the Gophers.
HATS OFF TO ANTOINE!