Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
Minnesota Gopher junior walk-on wide receiver AJ Barker has apparently quit the team. He did so today via an announcement on Twitter and in a rambling tirade of an open letter to Coach Jerry Kill on his Tumblr feed. Barker was the Gophers' leading receiver, but has missed their past three games due to an ankle injury.
First, read Barker's open letter to Coach Kill. While I appreciate his honesty, there were better ways to handle this, obviously. Like, by maybe not publishing a rambling tirade of an open letter on Tumblr. Maybe there's some truth in there somewhere, but Barker's own words don't seem to portray him well in this whole situation. The list of "manipulation tactics" at the end is just...it just seems to come from someone who was really upset, and I would bet is going to regret publishing that letter if he hasn't already. Was he upset because he felt he deserved a scholarship but wasn't going to get one? Was he really being treated any worse or any differently than anybody else? Was he the hard-working kid who was misunderstood and mistreated, or was he a spolied brat who couldn't handle Kill's style of coaching?
Clearly he and Kill and the coaches' had a disagreement. It happens, and it doesn't always work out. I'll be very interested to see what kind of a response, if any, we get from Kill. Whatever happened, thanks to AJ for his efforts this season, as he was the only consistent receiver the team had all season, and best of luck wherever he lands.
Per Nate Sandell of 1500 ESPN, Gopher AD Norwood Teague has issued a brief response to Barker's accusations:
"Coach Kill received an email from A.J. Barker today notifying the Coach that he has quit the team," Teague said in a statement.
"Coach Kill tried reaching out to A.J. after receiving the email, but was unable to connect with him. We understand A.J.'s frustration with his injury, and we regret that he has chosen to leave the team on these terms. Our concern first and foremost is student athletes and we wish A.J. well."