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Gophers' Winfield declares for NFL Draft

"I looked up to my dad and watched what he did and all he accomplished," Winfield posted. "Seeing what he was able to do empowers me to say: It's my time."
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2019, file photo. Minnesota defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. (11) gestures during an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin, in Minneapolis. Winfield was selected to The Associated Press All-America team, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs, File)

After doing virtually everything he could at the collegiate level, Minnesota Gophers defensive back Antoine Winfield Junior is taking the next step, declaring his availability for the 2020 NFL Draft. 

"I enjoyed my four years with the Gophers, and I want to thank everyone who has helped me along the way, from the coaches, to staffers and trainers, and my teammates," Winfield posted to his Instagram account. 

"I dreamed of playing in the league (NFL) ever since I can remember," Winfield continued. "I looked up to my dad, and watched what he did and all he accomplished. Seeing what he was able to do empowers me to say: It's my time." 

Winfield's stock couldn't be much higher than at this moment. He is coming off a historic season where his play at safety helped the Gophers to their first 11-win season in more than 100 years. Winfield was named a consensus All-American, meaning he was named All-America First Team by the AFCA, The Sporting News, Associated Press, and Walter Camp Foundation. He is the first Gopher to be named consensus All-American since center Greg Eslinger in 2005. 

RELATED: Gophers' Winfield named consensus All-American

The oft-honored Winfield is Minnesota's 34th Consensus All-American and he has potential to be the seventh unanimous selection in school history. Winfield was also named Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year, All-Big Ten First Team, and was one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Award, presented annually to the best defensive player in the nation.

Winfield started all 13 games for the Gophers this year after missing the majority of the 2017 and 2018 seasons with injuries. He led Minnesota with 88 tackles (62 of which were solo), a school record seven interceptions and two forced fumbles.

Besides his on-field exploits, Antoine Winfield Junior was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.  

A number of draft prognosticators and publications slot Winfield as a second round draft pick, but his stock is rising, and some believe he could go late in the first round. 

RELATED: Winfield Jr. leaving his own mark in Minnesota

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