CHICAGO – While the Gophers wait to see if the NCAA clearinghouse grants running back Jeff Jones his eligibility, he is prepared to appeal for an initial eligibilty waiver if necessary, Coach Jerry Kill said.
Kill sounded confident Tuesday at Big Ten Media Days that Jones would be a part of the program, even if he's not able to play in games this fall.
Jones is right on the bubble to qualify academically for Division I. The NCAA uses a sliding scale using test scores and grades. Jones had a solid ACT score, but his grades were not high enough coming out of Minneapolis Washburn.
Jones is still finishing summer school, Kill said. Once that's done, the Gophers will submit his grades and scores to the NCAA clearinghouse.
“Even with that decision, you can appeal that decision with a letter,” Kill said. “That letter talks about all the things that Jeff has gone through in his life. And then they’ll make an ultimate decision there, and then we’ll see what happens.”
Kill added, “I don’t want to say too much what he’s gone through with his family, but the point is, you can mention that he also has a letter.”
Kill also said, “I know the NCAA inside-out because I’ve been through it before. … When you read his letter … usually they grant [eligibility]. Either he’ll be a partial or a full qualifier.”
Others familiar with Jones’ situation have said he would likely redshirt this fall even if the NCAA clears him to play. Kill didn’t go that far, but agreed the Gophers have strong running back depth with David Cobb and Donnell Kirkwood entering their season year, Rodrick Williams coming back as a junior, and redshirt-freshman Berkley Edwards.
“[Jones] understands where he’s at,” Kill said. “We need him next year more than anything. Concentrate on school and get him here this year.”