Gophers coach Tracy Claeys anticipated some transfers after the season, and it appears the team will lose four scholarship players, counting Jeff Jones, who transferred to a junior college earlier in December.
Cornerback Craig James, wide receiver Desmond Gant and running back Berkley Edwards also are leaving the program, the Star Tribune learned Tuesday.
James hopes to transfer closer to home in Edwardsville, Ill., and could land at Illinois State. Gant is seeking more playing time, and also might transfer to Illinois State, an FCS-level program.
Edwards, one of the Big Ten’s fastest sprinters, gave indications he wants to pursue track full-time. He hasn’t ruled out the possibility of staying at Minnesota to run track, his father, Stan, said.
The younger Edwards also could transfer to another school to compete in both track and football.
The 5-9, 195-pound Edwards was a three-star recruit coming out of Chelsea, Mich., in 2013 but redshirted that fall after spraining an ankle in training camp. In 2014, Edwards played in 12 games behind David Cobb, rushing 30 times for 140 yards
This year, as a sophomore, Edwards played in only two games, rushing five times for 29 yards. Two freshmen, Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith, handled the bulk of the Gophers’ carries.
Stan Edwards, who played running back at Michigan and then for six years in the NFL, said he feels like the Gophers coaches who recruited Berkley were dishonest.
“This has nothing to do with playing time,” Stan Edwards said. “This is about what people promised. I told them, ‘If Berkley isn’t playing, I want to know why.’ They told me they would tell me, and they didn’t.”
In response, Gophers spokesman Paul Rovnak said, “The coaching staff communicates directly with the players regarding playing time and football-related matters.”
Transfers are typical this time of year in college football. The Gophers had three players transfer last January.
“Every year, there are kids who want to know where they fit and what’s going on, and we’ll have those discussions when we get back off the bowl game,” Claeys said last week.