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Five things you might not know about Juwann Winfree

Henry Chisholm Avatar
May 20, 2019

The Denver Broncos picked Juwann Winfree, a wide receiver from Colorado, in the sixth round of the NFL Draft. Most analysts didn’t expect Winfree to be drafted, primarily due to his lack of college production, but John Elway saw enough potential in the well-traveled receiver to take a risk.

Here are five things you might not know about Juwann Winfree:

He had a rough start to college  

Winfree, a New Jersey native, committed to the University of Maryland out of high school. He was a four-star recruit and contributed 158 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman. In a late-season game against Michigan State, he caught four passes for 80 yards and a touchdown.

But he was suspended for the team’s final two games of the season for violating the school’s student-athlete code of conduct. Then, in the June following his freshman season, Winfree was suspended indefinitely, again for violating the school’s student-athlete code of conduct. A week later, he left the school.

The reason for the suspensions haven’t been reported, though the Baltimore Sun said he didn’t fail a drug test and his name didn’t show up in court records. In a Q&A with CBS 4 Denver, Winfree said this was the third time he’d gotten into trouble at Maryland.

“It humbled me,” Winfree told CBS 4. “What was important for me and what helped me out a lot was having the mentor and coach that I had in Keenan McCardell. I wouldn’t be the same player or person that I am today without him. I made a lot of dumb mistakes there, and he never gave up on me.

“The confidence he had in me and the potential he saw in me was huge. He sat me down one day before I left, and we just had a heart-to-heart. He sat me down and told me what he saw in me. He thought that, as a freshman, I had the potential to be a second-round pick, just based on the things I was doing in practice and in games. He played in the NFL for 17 years, so when he says that, you listen.”

Winfree spent the 2015 season at Coffeyville Community College then transferred to Colorado for 2016. But, prior to his first season with the Buffs, he tore his ACL, leaving two years of eligibility.

He was a team captain at Colorado

Winfree’s winding journey through college football ended with him being named a team captain at Colorado last season. He attributes his change in demeanor to a newfound belief in Christianity.

“As I started going through all these things, I started relying on God heavily,” Winfree told BuffZone.com. “You always question why some things happen to you, but it’s just God trying to teach you things, and you can’t question His actions and His doings. I just learned to rely on my faith in Him.

“I’m thankful for that downfall because it helped me become who I am today. It helped me meet a lot of great people and build a lot of great bonds on my journey coming here.”

He was one of Bleacher Report’s pre-draft sleepers

In April, Bleacher Report published a list of the best-kept secrets in the 2019 draft. It called Winfree a “secret workaholic,” a stark shift from the narrative that surrounded him early in his collegiate career.

When Winfree wanted to catch some balls but didn’t have a workout partner, he enlisted help from his girlfriend. The pair went to the Buffs’ practice field, set up a Jugs machine and Winfree’s girlfriend loaded balls into it so he could get reps in.

“That just comes from me being a workaholic and having a supportive girlfriend,” Winfree told Bleacher Report.“I can’t always get a teammate to work with me, because I like to work out any time: late nights, early mornings.

“She’s always with me, so she was able to do it for me.”

The workouts stemmed from a conversation Winfree had with McCardell at Maryland, before Winfree transferred.

“When he found out I got in trouble, he sat me down and gave me a list of things I have to do on the daily,” Winfree told Bleacher Report. “Get 200 catches per day, stretching, doing cone drills. It’s stuff I took with me forever.”

His father played professional basketball 

Winfree was drafted for his potential, not his college production. Much of that potential comes from his athletic ability. Winfree is a shade over 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds and ran a 4.50 40-yard dash at Colorado’s pro day.

Some of that athleticism can be attributed to his father.

Carl Winfree was a guard for Sacred Heart University before playing professionally in Israel and Germany for five years. He says the experience helped him turn his son into a four-star recruit.

 “I knew what it would take for him to get to that point,” Carl told the Washington Post.“Training, training, training. Competing, competing, competing. And more training.”

He is ultra-competitive

Last summer, BuffStampede.com asked Colorado football players who the most competitive person on the team is. Winfree’s name was among those mentioned.

“I want to say Ronnie Blackmon,” Buffs cornerback Nick Fisher said. “That is a guy that comes to mind immediately. Anytime I want to talk to him, tell him he is doing this, he always says he works the hardest. He doesn’t want to be beat. Another guy that comes to mind is Juwann (Winfree). He and Ronnie hate to lose.”

Winfree’s first competition as a pro will be with his fellow Broncos’ receivers for a spot on the roster.


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