Colorado Buffaloes wide receiver Juwann Winfree (9) in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Boulder, Colo. USC won 38-24. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Juwann Winfree did not expect to be drafted by the Denver Broncos. After having his senior season undermined with injuries – a common theme during his time at CU – the 6-foot-3 wide receiver wasn’t sure if he still had a chance to play professional football.
“There’s times when I kind of doubted if I was ever going to get back to being fully healthy, but I always knew what I was capable of,” Winfree said over the weekend.
Winfree missed the entire 2016 season with a torn ACL, and then battled hamstring and ankle injuries in ensuing seasons. The Englewood, N.J., native, displayed flashes of his potential, like in the 2017 USC game when Winfree caught five passes for 163 yards and two scores. But for the most part, Winfree’s time with the Buffs was filled with “what ifs”. What if Winfree could have stayed healthy and what if CU would have had him in 2016?
“It was just a matter of me being healthy, and hopefully, with God’s time, find a way where I could just be able to put the best me on film. It just happened to be in the offseason.”
One of the offseason workouts where Winfree helped his cause was Denver’s local pro day. According to Winfree, it was there where he realized that the Broncos may actually be interested in him. Winfree was able begin developing a relationship with Broncos wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni. But more importantly, Winfree was able to show the team that he was finally healthy.
“Them seeing me up close, seeing what type of player I am and what type of man I am off the field was big for me,” Winfree said.
The other big reason Winfree landed in Denver, according to Winfree, was former Buffs running back Phillip Lindsay.
“I know he put in a huge word for me,” Winfree said. “That’s my big brother right there. He paved the way for me, doing what he did, coming from the University of Colorado. I’m just glad he was able to help me out there doing that. We have the same agent too, so I’m just completely blessed.”
If Winfree’s rookie season ends up being half as productive as Lindsay’s the Broncos will surely be thrilled. In 2018, Lindsay rushed for a team-high 1,037 yards on only 192 attempts (5.4 YPC). Lindsay also had eight runs of 20 or more yards and found the end zone 10 times.
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