Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Five Things to Know About Antoine Winfield Jr.

The former University of Minnesota safety comes from an NFL pedigree, but his accomplishments are all his own.

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FILE - In this Sept. 28, 2019, file photo, Minnesota defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. (11) plays against Purdue during the first half of an NCAA college football game, in West Lafayette, Ind. Winfield was selected to the AP All-Big Ten Conference team, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

1. Antoine Winfield Jr. was a Gopher in college.

And we mean that literally. Winfield spent his college years playing for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, becoming an immediate contributor during his freshman season in 2016. He started nine of the 12 games he played in and that year saw him record 52 tackles, break up three passes, recover one fumble and return an interception 82 yards for a touchdown.

He was plagued with injury the next two seasons, playing in a total of eight games before returning in 2019 with a vengeance. Winfield started all 13 games of his fourth-year sophomore campaign, during which he recorded a team-leading 88 tackles, 62 of which were solo and 3.5 of which were for loss, while tying a single-season school record with seven (!) interceptions. He returned one of those picks for a touchdown and forced two fumbles last season, too. Over the course of his Gopher career, Winfield picked the ball off nine times, three of which were returned for scores, and tallied 177 total tackles with seven for loss and four sacks.

A unanimous All-American in 2019, Winfield Jr. finished as a Bronko Nagurski Award finalist, which is given to the nation's best defensive back and he won the team's Bronko Nagurski Award as the Gophers' MVP and the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year.

2. He's the son of 14-year NFL veteran Antoine Winfield.

Perhaps Jr.'s choice in school had a lot to do with the fact that his father played nine years for the Minnesota Vikings after playing five years with the Buffalo Bills at cornerback. Over the course of his career, Winfield was selected to the Pro Bowl three times from 2008-2010.

In fact, the elder Winfield picked off one Bucs quarterback Tom Brady in Week 9 of the 2001 NFL season. Maybe Jr. can do it this season in training camp. Winfield was selected in the 1999 NFL Draft at No. 23 overall out of Ohio State, a year before Tom Brady was taken in the sixth round out of the University of Michigan – meaning the two also played against each other in college.

"I feel like every team I go to, people have either played with him or coached with him," Winfield told reporters during his media session at the NFL Scouting Combine, according to an article on Bleacher Report.

When your dad retired as recently as 2012, that's probably bound to happen.

3. Winfield is as smart off the field as he is on it.

In addition to being a consensus All-American for his play, he was also Academic All-Big Ten the last three years of his collegiate career. He was a CoSIDA Academic All-District in 2019 and a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar 2018-2019.

View pictures of S Antoine Winfield Jr., the 45th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

4. Winfield Jr. models his game after Tyrann Mathieu.

Winfield Jr. is a huge fan of the Honey Badger. Though he played cornerback in high school like his dad, he played safety in college and needed an NFL safety to emulate: enter Tyrann Mathieu.

But at the NFL Combine, he said he got his 'heart and study habits' from his father. Winfield Jr. said because of his dad, he started with this whole football thing early. He remembers watching tape with him as a kid.

5. Like Tristan Wirfs, Winfield has also already played inside Raymond James Stadium.

As a fellow Big Ten-er, Winfield also made a trip to the Outback Bowl in college – just this past Jnauary in fact, when the Golden Gophers took on the Auburn Tigers. At the time, Winfield still had a year of eligibility left in Minnesota but after the game decided it would be the last of his collegiate career.

It means that his last game in college and first game in the NFL could likely happen in the same place, provided the Bucs get to open the 2020 season at home.

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