Defensive back has been a position of strength for the Gophers in recent years and this year's group has an opportunity to carry on that legacy as well.
Maurice Linguist, who will coach the defensive backs this season, came to Minnesota after coaching the safeties for one year at Mississippi State. In Starkville, Miss., he coached a quartet of talented, play-making who made seven of Mississippi State's 14 interceptions. Prior to his time at Mississippi State, Linguist worked two seasons each at Iowa State and Buffalo.
Linguist has 12 defensive backs on the spring roster and seven of them have seen game experience. The most tenured of the group are seniors Adekunle Ayinde and Duke McGhee. Ayinde, a former walk-on from Blaine, Minn., has played in 30 career games. He has made 66 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, broke up nine passes and made one interception.
McGhee is a hard-hitting safety from Georgia who has played in 35 career games and has made 101 tackles, while also breaking up five passes and making one interception. His 54 tackles last season ranked fourth on the team.
Antonio Shenault has played in 23 career games for Minnesota and has 47 career tackles on his resume. He started five games last season and made 32 tackles, while also breaking up two passes.
Jacob Huff saw his role increase last season, as he played in 13 games. The soon-to-be junior notched six tackles last season and should see a larger role this year.
Zo Craighton redshirted in 2015 before playing in eight games as a freshman last season. He made four tackles on the season, but none were bigger then the stop he made on the goal line in the Holiday Bowl as Washington State was attempting a two-point conversion. Craighton also broke up one pass.
Antoine Winfield Jr. will be a sophomore in the fall after a breakout freshman season. Winfield started nine games and was fifth on the team with 52 tackles. He also broke up three passes, recovered one fumble and returned his lone interception 82 yards for a touchdown at Maryland.
Coney Durr was a true freshman last season who battled injuries during the year. He played in seven games, but started against the pass-happy Washington State Cougars in the Holiday Bowl. Durr shined on the big stage as he made four tackles and broke up one pass in the bowl game before suffering an injury. Durr is still rehabbing his injury during spring practice.
Dorborwulu Cooper will be a redshirt junior in the fall after transferring from Central Lakes Junior College. He redshirted at Minnesota last season after making 24 tackles, breaking up five passes and recovering two fumbles at the junior college level.
Troy Dipre sat out last season after transferring from Kent State. While a freshman with the Flashes he competed against Minnesota and made one tackle. He has three seasons and eligibility left and should compete for playing time.
Calvin Swenson, Kiondre Thomas and Brady Wieland all redshirted in their first year at Minnesota in 2016 and will use this spring to gain valuable experience.
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