University of Minnesota/College Days (Note: Winfield was officially a red-shirt Sophomore in his fourth season)
Sometimes a player, for whatever reason, just seems to slip under the radar. Was it the fact that his second and third seasons were cut short by injury with the Golden Gophers? Winfield Jr. made up for the time he missed. In his fourth season with Minnesota, he exploded onto the scene, finishing that season with 83 tackles, 58 solos, 3.5 for a loss, 3 sacks, 7 interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, and two forced fumbles. He also was a finalist for the Bronco Nagurski Award, First-Team All-Big Ten, Big-Ten Defensive Back of the year, and First-Team All-American. Very impressive stats and accolades for our second round steal out of Minnesota.
As I like to do, we’re going to take a look into his High School days with what follows. I’ve always felt like stories, and accomplishments from a player’s first years of serious play (post-Pop Warner, and junior football) can tell a lot about the player you’re looking at. What follows will be quotes from his High School Head Coach and position’s coach and more from those earlier formative years in the game.
High School Days
I think by now, we all know that Antoine Jr. is the son of Antoine Winfield Sr. of Bills and Vikings fame, a veteran of 14 NFL Seasons. The eldest Winfield decided to pack up the family and move to a large housing project/community that was in unincorporated Montgomery County Texas. Winfield Sr. had been told about the community by Vikings teammate Adrian Peterson, who was a resident of the community. The Winfields stayed with the Petersons while searching for a home there. The Woodlands High School was known to have a solid football program where Winfield Jr. could flourish.
The Woodlands High, Head Football Coach Mark Schmid, described how it all came about.
“I got a phone call in the summer that some people were looking at homes in The Woodlands, and they were wanting to see what the high school was like,” Schmid said. “Once I heard the name, it didn’t take me long to make the connection that this was Antoine Winfield, the dad who played for the Vikings. When they came into the office a few days later to meet with me and go on a tour of the school, they kept saying The Woodlands was recommended to them by their friend, Adrian Peterson. That’s who they were staying with while they were shopping for homes,” Schmid said. “That was kind of a memorable deal that stands out with me, my first time meeting Antoine Jr. and his parents.” – Mark Schmid quote per Jon Poorman of chron.com
Antoine Winfield Jr.’s Defensive Coordinator while at The Woodlands High was Pat Kennedy, and he had this to say of his former star.
“He was never in trouble, he was a great student, great football player, and he did all the little things,” Kennedy said. “He worked extremely hard, and he had all the intangibles, plus he came from a great pedigree. You could see that he was going to be special when he came to us as a sophomore. It’s just taken time for the world to see that he’s a special football player.” – Coach Kennedy quote per Jon Poorman of chron.com
Senior Season foretells of things to come at Minnesota and beyond
During Winfields Senior Season at the school, the defense surrendered only 9.1 points per game. A pretty big deal, the single-digit stat, has only happened four times at the School in its history. Winfield was the Defensive Squad’s unmistakable leader, registering 113 tackles, two forced fumbles, one recovery, one sack, and one interception. As a return specialist, Winfield averaged over 20 yards a return on punts and had a 95-yard kickoff return in that capacity as he was named the All-County Player Of The Year for Montgomery County. The younger Winfield averaged over a hundred tackles a season during his three-year stint at the school.
“He made other people better,” Coach Kennedy said. “He made (safety) Talon Baskin better, he made (cornerback) A.J. Mason better – he made everybody better just by his presence on the field. He was a special football player.” – Coach Kennedy quote per Jon Poorman of chron.com
Winfield Jr. is just the kind of player that the Buccaneers sorely needed to be the last piece of the New Overhauled Defensive Backfield. A ball-hawking bunch that will make fans feel good again about a complete defense from front to back. This unit is going to develop into a Juggernaut of a defense that teams had better respect, or they will pay for it big-time. Antoine Winfield Jr. is just the last piece of a puzzle that Jason Licht has been working on now for some time and is ready to unleash upon our NFL Opponents along with the new guy at quarterback and his favorite tight end buddy. This should be a season to remember, no matter if it goes very well, as I think it will or just better than last year. No matter how well we do, Winfield should develop into a star and help lead the resurgence of our Buccaneers. Go Bucs!!