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

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
Orlando
New York 6:00 PM
Indiana
Denver 7:00 PM
Memphis
Chicago 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Montreal 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Boston 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Arizona 6:30 PM
Toronto
Dallas 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Detroit 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Columbus 6:30 PM
Florida
Nashville 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Minnesota 8:00 PM
Calgary
Buffalo 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Anaheim 9:00 PM
San Jose
DePaul 1:00 PM
Providence
Michigan State 5:00 PM
Rutgers
Boston Univ 6:00 PM
Army
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Youngstown St 6:00 PM
Detroit
East Tenn St 6:00 PM
Furman
Saint Louis 6:00 PM
George Mason
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
Jacksonville
High Point 6:00 PM
Liberty
Central Conn St 6:00 PM
Long Island
Western Ky 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Dayton 6:00 PM
Massachusetts
Chattanooga 6:00 PM
Mercer
Wofford 6:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
Maryland 6:00 PM
Ohio State
FIU 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fair-Dickinson 6:00 PM
Robert Morris
Mount St Marys 6:00 PM
St Francis-NY
Bryant 6:00 PM
St Francis-PA
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Stetson
Coll of Charleston 6:00 PM
Towson
Western Carolina 6:00 PM
Va Military
Sacred Heart 6:00 PM
Wagner
Lipscomb 6:00 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Kennesaw St 6:00 PM
North Florida
Appalachian St 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Holy Cross 6:30 PM
Loyola-Maryland
Eastern Ill 6:30 PM
UT Martin
Jacksonville St 7:00 PM
Belmont
Connecticut 7:00 PM
Cincinnati
Rider 7:00 PM
Saint Peters
SIU Edwardsville 7:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Marshall 7:00 PM
Southern Miss
Tenn Tech 7:00 PM
Tennessee St
Middle Tennessee 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ill-Chicago 7:00 PM
Milwaukee
Weber State 7:00 PM
North Dakota
Denver 7:00 PM
North Dakota St
IUPU-Ft Wayne 7:00 PM
South Dakota
Louisiana 7:05 PM
South Alabama
Georgia State 7:15 PM
Texas-Arlington
Ark-Little Rock 7:30 PM
Arkansas State
ULM 7:30 PM
Troy
Portland 8:00 PM
Gonzaga
Kentucky 8:00 PM
Missouri
Eastern Ky 8:00 PM
Murray State
UAB 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Idaho State 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
UMKC 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Chicago State 8:05 PM
Utah Valley U
Colorado 8:30 PM
USC
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
UC Irvine
Hawaii 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Pepperdine 9:00 PM
Pacific
Santa Clara 9:00 PM
San Diego
Utah 9:00 PM
UCLA
UC Santa Barbara 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Montana 9:05 PM
Portland State
Montana State 9:05 PM
Sacramento St
Long Beach State 9:30 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Loyola Marymount 9:30 PM
St Marys-CA
San Francisco 10:00 PM
BYU
California 10:00 PM
Washington St
Louisiana 16 2nd Half
South Alabama 24
Saint Josephs 4 1st Half 10:35
Saint Louis 11
Appalachian St 4:00 PM
Georgia Southern
Niagara 4:00 PM
Saint Peters
Old Dominion 5:00 PM
FIU
Southern Miss 5:00 PM
Marshall
Georgia State 5:00 PM
TX-Arlington
Ark-Little Rock 5:05 PM
Arkansas State
ULM 5:15 PM
Troy
Pittsburgh 5:30 PM
(17) Duke
(6) Tennessee 6:00 PM
(10) Kentucky
(24) Oklahoma 6:00 PM
(14) Texas
Nebraska Omaha 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
UC-Riverside 6:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Army 6:00 PM
Boston U
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Nicholls
Charlotte 6:00 PM
Florida Atlantic
Towson 6:00 PM
Delaware
Hofstra 6:00 PM
Northeastern
New Hampshire 6:00 PM
Maine
Albany 6:00 PM
Vermont
Hartford 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
UNC-Wilmington 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Clemson 6:00 PM
Wake Forest
Alabama 6:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
(23) Syracuse 6:00 PM
(8) Louisville
Missouri 6:00 PM
Florida
Iona 6:00 PM
Fairfield
Manhattan 6:00 PM
Marist
NC State 6:00 PM
Virginia
(4) Notre Dame 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(22) Rutgers 6:00 PM
Purdue
(5) Maryland 6:00 PM
Michigan
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
Cleveland State
Wright State 6:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 6:00 PM
USC Upstate
North Florida 6:00 PM
Kennesaw St
Stetson 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Loyola-Maryland 6:05 PM
Holy Cross
Lamar 6:30 PM
Sam Houston St
Fla Gulf Coast 6:30 PM
Lipscomb
Vanderbilt 7:00 PM
(18) Miss State
IUPUI 7:00 PM
Western Ill
Abilene Christian 7:00 PM
Houston Baptist
Incarnate Word 7:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
McNeese State 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Oral Roberts 7:00 PM
South Dakota St
Louisiana Tech 7:00 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
UAB
Auburn 7:00 PM
Arkansas
Grand Canyon 7:00 PM
UMKC
Illinois 7:00 PM
(15) Nebraska
(20) Iowa 7:00 PM
Northwestern
Utah Valley U 7:05 PM
Chicago State
Green Bay 7:05 PM
Valparaiso
Ole Miss 8:00 PM
LSU
Portland State 8:00 PM
Montana
Sacramento St 8:00 PM
Montana State
North Dakota 8:00 PM
Weber State
Ohio State 8:00 PM
Wisconsin
Northern Colorado 8:00 PM
Idaho State
BYU 9:00 PM
San Francisco
St Marys-CA 9:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Pacific 9:00 PM
Pepperdine
Cal-Irvine 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
San Diego 9:00 PM
Santa Clara
UC Davis 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Long Beach St 10:59 PM
Hawaii

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which of these teams is the most frustrating to watch right now?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close