P.J. Fleck named Big Ten Coach of the Year, several Gophers earn All-Big Ten honors


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Feb 8, 2017
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Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck was named Hayes-Schembechler Big Ten Coach of the Year, which is voted on by conference coaches. Fleck led the Gophers to a 10-win regular season for the first time since 1905. Under Fleck’s leadership, the program also won seven Big Ten games for the first time ever. At the age of 39, Fleck has already earned conference coach of the year awards three times. He was selected as MAC Coach of the Year in both 2014 and 2016. Fleck has helped Minnesota gain national brand exposure and is elevating the team to another level on the recruiting trail. More importantly, he has set records in the classroom and continues to make his mark in the local community through "Row the Boat."

Winfield named Big Ten Conference’s top defensive back

Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. just finished one of the most impressive seasons in program history. He led the team with 83 tackles and tied Minnesota's single-season record for interceptions (7). Winfield is gaining national attention and was named the Big Ten Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year. He becomes the first Minnesota defensive back to win the award. Winfield was also named First Team All-Big Ten on Tuesday. If he does indeed declare early for the NFL draft, he will go down as one of the top safeties to ever wear maroon and gold. His versatility and football intelligence helped the Gophers’ defense reach new heights in 2019.

Coughlin and five others earn All-Big Ten honors

In addition to Fleck and Winfield’s honors, edge rusher Carter Coughlin was named Second Team All-Big Ten by the coaches and media. In 2019, Coughlin tallied 44 tackles, 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. The senior pass rusher was recently invited to the Reese’s Senior Bowl and will gain interest from NFL scouts. Due to his current size and athletic skills, he likely projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level.

Defensive back Coney Durr, defensive tackle Sam Renner and linebacker Kamal Martin were named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention by the coaches and media.

Durr quietly became one of the top cornerbacks in the Big Ten. He developed into a technically sound player and forced quarterbacks to make tight window throws. During his junior season, Durr had 27 total tackles, nine pass breakups and one interception.

Not only that, but Sam Renner was one of the teams most improved players. He made a big impact within the interior and P.J. Fleck once called him an “unsung hero” of the defense. Renner tallied 40 tackles (seven for loss) and four sacks in 2019. He will likely draw interest from NFL scouts as a three-technique defensive tackle.

Linebacker Kamal Martin missed four games in 2019, but still posted 66 tackles, two forced fumbles and a pair of interceptions. Martin is a playmaker and has all of the necessary versatility to play in the NFL. His combination of length and athleticism will test well during the NFL Scouting Combine. In addition to that, Martin's blitzing and coverage skills will allow him to play within multiple different systems.

Linebacker Thomas Barber and cornerback Benjamin St-Juste also earned All-Big Ten Honorable Mention honors by the media.

During his four seasons in the program, Barber was a key centerpiece of Minnesota’s defense. This year, he notched 65 tackles (four for loss) and 0.5 sacks. His leadership and communication skills helped the Gophers’ defense make many critical pre-snap adjustments.

Benjamin St-Juste was a late addition to the Gophers’ roster. A graduate transfer from Michigan, St-Juste played a major role in Minnesota’s secondary. Despite only participating in three weeks of summer workouts and seeing his first game action since August 2018, St-Juste became a key contributor. With his agility, length and quickness, he frequently got into passing lanes. St-Juste had 39 tackles and nine pass breakups during his first season in maroon and gold.

DeLattiboudere named Big Ten Sportsmanship Award Recipient

Defensive end Winston DeLattiboudere was also named Minnesota’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award recipient. During his time in the football program, DeLattiboudere left a mark on the Twin Cities community. This year, he hosted a school-supply drive before an open practice. DeLattiboudere sent all of the materials to Jamaica and the Hmong International Academy in Minneapolis. The senior defensive end frequently volunteers in classrooms throughout the community. He continues to make a tremendous difference in the lives of many kids.
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