Top Gophers recruit likely won't play this season

Top Gophers recruit likely won't play this season
July 24, 2014, 8:30 pm
Share This Post
Vinnie Duber

There are so many potential impediments to Jeff Jones actually playing for the Gophers this season, it's hard to keep track of them all.

So the Star Tribune's Joe Christensen made it easy for us Thursday: It's not likely Jones will see game action for Minnesota this year.

Jones, the No. 1 recruit in the state of Minnesota and the seventh-ranked running back in the country (ranking per Rivals), was an enormous recruiting win for Jerry Kill & Co. But Jones has had a slew of academic issues, and the university and NCAA haven't yet figured out if he'll be ineligible or not come fall. It's possible he could play the next two seasons at a community college in Iowa. But as Christensen reports, even if Jones clears all his academic hurdles, it looks like he'll get redshirted this season anyway.

[MORE BIG TEN: Ty Issac's immediate future still unclear with Wolverines]

Why would a recruit as talented as Jones get slapped with a redshirt? One reason is just pure numbers. The Gophers have plenty of depth at running back even without Jones. Last year's workhorse David Cobb is back alongside others with experience such as Donnell Kirkwood.

Also, as Christensen points out, many other incoming freshmen have been working on campus for months. Jones has yet to start any activities with teammates.

But then there's also those academic issues, and the thinking would be that redshirting Jones would give him time to get all that sorted out so it's not a problem down the line, perhaps at a time when the running-back depth isn't as plentiful.

Even with all the stuff standing in the way of Jones playing any time soon, it's not difficult to see why the Gophers want him on the field. Over his final three seasons in high school in Minneapolis, Jones rushed for nearly 4,000 yards and — get this — 65 touchdowns, including 34 in his senior year.