After having 10 football players suspended indefinitely last December for their roles in an alleged sexual assault, the Gophers had five back practicing Tuesday.
The players, who won their appeals overturning university sanctions, are safety Antoine Winfield Jr., cornerback Antonio Shenault, running back Kobe McCrary and quarterbacks Seth Green and Mark Williams.
“First of all, those guys are students first,” coach P.J. Fleck said.
“They went through a policy that the university sets, and I’m just glad to have the guys back and have that behind us.”
No players were arrested or charged from the Sept. 2 incident, but the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) originally sanctioned 10 players. KiAnte Hardin, Ray Buford, Tamarion Johnson and Dior Johnson have been expelled, and Carlton Djam has been suspended from school for one year.
Making due with five
Jonah Pirsig has graduated and Tyler Moore and Connor Mayes have transferred. Three other starters are recovering from surgeries: Jared Weyler, Garrison Wright and Vincent Calhoun.
That left five offensive linemen to take every rep Tuesday: Donnell Greene (left tackle), Bronson Dovich (left guard), Conner Olson (center), Quinn Oseland (right guard) and Nick Connelly (right tackle). The Gophers hope to have Sam Schlueter back at Thursday’s practice.
“We had a kid break a shoelace, and I mean it was like the world stopped turning for a minute,” Fleck said. “I’m sitting there going, ‘What are waiting for? Let’s go, get another guy in. Wait, you can’t get the guy in. There’s nobody else.’ I was literally ready to play left tackle.”
• Fleck said 22 Gophers had offseason surgery. Others who are out for spring practice include linebacker Blake Cashman (shoulder), defensive lineman Gaelin Elmore (unspecified), cornerback Coney Durr (knee), and tight ends Brandon Lingen (foot) and Colton Beebe (knee).
• Asked about quarterbacks, Fleck cited three who are “kind of showing a lot,” listing Conor Rhoda, Demry Croft and true freshman Tanner Morgan.