This has turned into a lost freshman season with the Gophers for once-heralded recruit Jeff Jones, and now there's another twist.

Jones has spent recent weeks in practice working exclusively — at defensive back.

Coach Tracy Claeys confirmed that development Thursday. Claeys said the plan is to get through the final three weeks of the regular season and help Jones reassess which position suits him best for the future.

Claeys acknowledged that Jones regrets switching from running back to wide receiver during spring practice. ranked Jones as the nation's No. 7 running back recruit in the 2014 class, when he was coming out of Minneapolis Washburn. He was named Co-MVP of the Under Armour All-America Game as a pass-catching running back.

Jones had said he wouldn't mind switching to wide receiver for the Gophers if it helped him get on the field faster. After being academically ineligible for the 2014 season, he was cleared to play for spring practice and looked like a potential impact receiver.

Jones has dealt with a migraine issue that has slowed his progress considerably. He has played in three games, mostly on special teams, and has yet to touch the ball. He last played Sept. 26 and has been listed as out on the injury report most weeks since.

Two other freshmen — Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith — have moved to the top of the depth chart at running back. But both of them have been slowed with injuries of late, as well.

The Gophers typically don't make injured or noncontributing players available to the media, so Jones hasn't been interviewed since arriving on campus last fall.

Injury update

Claeys told KFAN that of the team's injured players, the only one who could return for Saturday's game at Iowa is wide receiver Eric Carter, who is progressing through the concussion protocol.

The Gophers are still without three starting offensive linemen (Ben Lauer, Josh Campion and Brian Bobek), two starting defensive tackles (Steven Richardson and Scott Ekpe) and two safeties (Damarius Travis and Ace Rogers).

They'll also have two cornerbacks out for Iowa (Jalen Myrick and Craig James), along with tight end Lincoln Plsek and wide receiver Isaiah Gentry. Claeys said Myrick will need three to four weeks to recover from a rib/lung injury suffered at Ohio State but didn't rule him out for a potential bowl game.


• The Gophers landed a commitment from Kiondre Thomas, a consensus three-star cornerback from Fort Smith, Ark., who also had a reported offer from Mississippi State. Thomas is the 18th player committed to Minnesota for the 2016 class.

• Gophers senior linebacker De'Vondre Campbell accepted an invitation to play in the East-West Shrine Game.