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Minnesota WR A.J. Barker leaves team, alleges coach Jerry Kill of mistreatment

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer
A.J. Barker was the first Minnesota wide receiver to record three 100-yard games since Eric Decker in 2009. (US Presswire)

Minnesota wide receiver A.J. Barker is quitting the team, and alleged coach Jerry Kill of mistreatment in an open letter on Sunday.

The Golden Gophers' leading receiver said that mistreatment from Kill and the team's training staff following an ankle injury has led him to seek another school for his final year of eligibility. Barker was a non-recruited walk-on, therefore he will not have to sit out his senior season.

Barker directed his Twitter followers to an open letter on Tumblr entitled: "My letter to Jerry Kill, why I quit." [Note: Tumblr post is very NSFW]

In the letter Barker gives his side of an apparently ongoing battle regarding his playing status following an ankle injury against Purdue on Oct. 27. According to Barker, the training staff knew he had suffered a high ankle sprain but did not inform him until he requested an MRI from another source.

Then there was an alleged confrontation with Kill on Thursday, after a discussion on Barker's status for the Golden Gopher's regular season finale against Michigan State. Barker wrote that Kill "attacked everything about me, from an athlete to my character as a person."

The school released a statement Sunday night, confirming that Barker had quit the team.

"Coach Kill received an email from A.J. Barker today notifying the Coach that he has quit the team," the statement said. "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."

Barker lead the Gophers with 30 catches for 577 yards and seven touchdowns. He told the St. Paul Pioneer-Press he plans to finish the semester at Minnesota, but would like to stay in the Big Ten - if anyone will have him.

"I'd love to stay in the Big Ten," Barker said. "It's possible there will be no Big Ten school willing to take me. I understand that. I might be forced to transfer down (to a lower division). I might be exiled from college football. But those are the consequences I will have to deal with if it happens."

Barker was the first Golden Gophers receiver to with three 100-yard games in a season since Eric Decker in 2009.

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