Top receiver Barker quits Gophers, writes angry letter about Kill

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 19, 2012 - 11:35 AM

The injured wide receiver informed the university via a seething, lengthy Internet post directed at coach Jerry Kill.

The uncertainty about A.J. Barker's ankle injury is finally over, but it's an unsatisfying conclusion for the Gophers. Barker, the team's leading receiver, quit the team on Sunday, and he used a 4,000-word public denunciation of coach Jerry Kill to do so.

"I'm done with you for good," Barker wrote in an open letter posted on a tumblr.com blog. "In light of that pathetic, manipulative display of rage and love you put on this past Thursday, I have come to the decision, with the guidance of my parents and my closest friends, that my time on this team has come to an end."

The 21-year-old DeLaSalle High School graduate said he intends to transfer to another school for his senior year, and because of his status as an unrecruited walk-on, he believes NCAA rules requiring transfers within Division I to sit out a season will not apply.

Kill tried to contact Barker, who has not played since suffering an ankle injury during the Gophers' 44-28 victory over Purdue on Oct. 27, after receiving the letter via e-mail on Sunday, according to a statement released Sunday night by athletic director Norwood Teague, but was unable to do so.

"We understand A.J.'s frustration with his injury, and we regret that he has chosen to leave the team on these terms," Teague's statement said. "Our concern first and foremost is student athletes, and we wish A.J. well."

Teague's statement was the only response from the university.

Barker's departure removes this year's best receiver from the Gophers offense for good. The former All-Metro prep player caught 30 passes, seven for touchdowns, before being injured, and even after missing three games, those numbers still lead the Gophers receiving corps by far. Barker's 72.1-yard average would rank third in the Big Ten if he had enough games to qualify for the league leaders.

But the St. Paul native, who joined the team in 2009 and made only one catch before emerging this season, was confronted by Kill at the team's practice on Thursday, Barker said, after the coach became angry about how his sore ankle was being treated. An MRI taken Wednesday revealed torn ligaments in his foot, Barker said.

According to Barker, however, it wasn't Kill's angry lecture that riled him. "I've been screamed at before by coaches," Barker said Sunday in a telephone interview. "What bothered me was, when practice was over and it was just the two of us, he spent 20 minutes talking about how he admired me, talking about [his] love for me as a person. To me, he was just being a hypocrite, because he had made it clear when he was screaming a few minutes earlier that he really had something against me."

Still, it's clear from his lengthy, indignant post that Kill's criticism stung the receiver. "I will not accept your ruthless attempt to degrade and belittle me," Barker wrote.

Kill had warned him that he would "have to work your way from the bottom up" once he was healthy enough to play, Barker said in his post. "I might have been back by bowl time," he said Sunday night, "but [Kill] made it clear I wasn't going to play ... that he didn't need me and the team didn't need me."

Thursday's confrontation, which began while Kill was standing 40 yards away, according to Barker, was prompted when Kill learned from the team's athletic trainer that the receiver was making his own choices about his treatment rather than following the trainer's direction. After what he described as a 20-minute tirade, Barker said, Kill called him over after practice and tried to connect with him in a more calm, supportive way.

Barker did not travel with the Gophers a week ago to Illinois or last weekend to Nebraska. And Sunday afternoon, he announced, first via Twitter -- "Well, its official. I am done playing football for the University of Minnesota and I will be looking to transfer next season for my final yr," his tweet read -- and then via his Tumblr post, which has an irate tone and is sprinkled with curse words. Barker also claimed in it that an assistant coach once used a slur to refer to him.

In Barker's absence, the Gophers will rely upon a pair of injury-plagued seniors, MarQueis Gray and Brandon Green; freshman Andre McDonald; transfer Isaac Fruechte; and sophomore Devin Crawford-Tufts. The Gophers receiving corps was thinned even further Saturday, when Marcus Jones suffered what appeared to be a knee injury.

Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse contributed to this report.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles 2 Top 3rd Inning
Chicago Cubs 1
Detroit 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
Kansas City 0
Philadelphia - J. Williams 3:05 PM
Oakland - D. Pomeranz
Toronto - M. Stroman 3:05 PM
NY Yankees - C. Capuano
Arizona - T. Cahill 3:10 PM
Colorado - E. Butler
Boston - R. De La Rosa 6:05 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Milwaukee - M. Garza 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Washington - J. Zimmermann 6:10 PM
Miami - J. Cosart
NY Mets - J. Niese 6:10 PM
Atlanta - M. Minor
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - C. Archer
Cleveland - T. House 6:10 PM
Minnesota - T. May
Seattle - C. Young 6:10 PM
Houston - D. Keuchel
Cincinnati - M. Leake 6:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Wacha
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Texas - C. Lewis 8:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 28 3rd Qtr
Rice 14
Troy 0 3rd Qtr
(13) Georgia 45
Georgia Tech 10 3rd Qtr
Virginia Tech 16
Eastern Mich 0 3rd Qtr
(11) Michigan State 49
Bowling Green 10 3rd Qtr
(19) Wisconsin 41
Iowa 7 3rd Qtr 9:49
Pittsburgh 17
Maryland 24 2nd Qtr 6:13
Syracuse 13
Tulane 7 2nd Qtr 4:06
Duke 19
Hawaii 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Vancouver FC 4:00 PM
Portland
Houston 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
New England 6:30 PM
Columbus
San Jose 6:30 PM
Montreal
Seattle 6:30 PM
Red Bull New York
D.C. 7:30 PM
Chicago
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Countdown to great deals

Bid Sept. 21-29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close