No longer a member of the Minnesota Golden Gophers' football team, junior wide receiver A.J. Barker gave a detailed explanation for his actions to leave the program on his Tumblr page on Sunday.
According to Barker, the Minnesota staff, mainly head coach Jerry Kill, mishandled his ankle injury earlier in the season by ignoring the decision to undergo an MRI. The third-year receiver also claimed his place on the team was immediately called into question by Kill throughout his recovery process, and claimed he was rushed into action on the practice field before eventually being chastised by coaches for underperforming.
Though Barker has not been able to play in Minnesota's last three games due to the injury, he currently leads the Gophers in receptions (30), receiving yards (577) and receiving touchdowns (seven). The 6'1, 197-pound St. Paul, Minn., native alleges he was still verbally berated by his head coach last Thursday after an incident between Barker and a trainer caught Jerry Kill's ear. It is this exchange, Barker says, that helped push him out the door:
It was during this discussion that you came over and exploded on me in front of the entire team in our indoor facility. "YOU DON’T F****** GET TO TELL THE TRAINER WHAT YOU DO!" followed by a 20 minute tyraid[sic] where you attacked everything about me, from an athlete to my character as a person. I took every word of it replying faithfully "Yes sir. Yes sir. No, sorry sir" and watched as you demeaned me to a point of no return. You took the one thing you had a say in (my football playing career and my future) and you held it against me in an attempt to break me, going as far as to tell me I’ll never get a scholarship or see the field again.
Barker then voices even more displeasure at the way Kill allegedly went about fixing the situation, claiming that the coach attempted to manipulate him further by making him feel lucky to even have the chance at redemption to begin with.
Despite allegedly getting passed over for a scholarship numerous times with claims it was for the betterment of the team, Barker worked his way into the starting lineup by his third season. Barker says he is actually thankful that his lack of a scholarship afforded him the chance to keep his reputation intact:
Thank you for not giving me a scholarship. As an unrecruited walk-on I can transfer without having to sit out a year, which I verified in the NCAA transfer-guide for 2012-2013. I can’t wait until the end of the season because that would risk you building up a false reputation around me that could make me unattractive to any other football program. I can’t reason with you because we don’t share equal premises. You pushed me to the brink, and now all I have the power left to do is leave.