If rebuilding MinnesotaâÄôs football program already wasnâÄôt difficult enough, head coach Jerry Kill will now have to continue the process without the efforts of last yearâÄôs leading rusher DeLeon Eskridge.
The senior has been granted a release from his scholarship and will transfer to a school that is closer to his native San Francisco to deal with what Kill described as a âÄúfamily situation.âÄù
Eskridge ran for 689 yards and seven scores last year. Both figures were tops on the team.
Tight end Tiree Eure, who served as a backup last season, will also be leaving the program.
âÄú[Eskridge] and I both felt it was in his best interest to make this decision,âÄù Kill stated in a press release. âÄúThings just didnâÄôt work out for Tiree. We wish them both the best of luck in the future.âÄù
Kill did not further specify a possible reason for EureâÄôs departure.
EskridgeâÄôs departure leaves senior Duane Bennett and redshirt freshmen Donnell Kirkwood, Devon Wright and Lamonte Edwards to compete for the starting running back job.
Bennett is the most experienced of the bunch, having started 24 games in his career. He rushed for 529 yards and three touchdowns a year ago, and added 33 catches for 319 yards and a touchdown.
Kill has historically used multiple backs and EskridgeâÄôs transfer will create more opportunities for other backs in KillâÄôs run-heavy pistol offense.
The moves were announced concurrently with the official announcement that wide receiver Malcolm Moulton and quarterback Dexter Foreman have signed to play with Minnesota.
Moulton will join the Gophers after spending a year at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas. He recorded 44 catches for 714 yards and five scores in his lone season with the Greyhounds. Rivals.com tabbed him as a three-star prospect out of five.
âÄúAfter spring ball, we felt we had an issue with depth at the receiver position,âÄù Kill said. âÄúWeâÄôre hoping Malcolm can help us in that area.âÄù
The 6-foot,1-inch, 210-pound Foreman threw for 1,198 yards, with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions, and rushed for 402 yards and four touchdowns during his senior season.
The Manvel, Texas native was listed as a two-star prospect on Rivals.com.
âÄúQuarterback was also an area where we felt we could add a player,âÄù Kill added. âÄúWeâÄôd like to create some more competition at the quarterback position and weâÄôre hoping Dexter can help us do that.âÄù
Both recruits are expected to join the team for fall camp.
McDonald backs off verbal
Wide receiver Andre McDonald, the first commitment that Kill received back in February from the class of 2012, has decommitted from the Gophers and will open up his recruitment.
The Minnetonka, Minn., native caught 64 passes for 1,144 yards and 19 touchdowns in his junior season at Hopkins High School.
McDonald is listed as a four-star prospect according to Rivals.com, and has multiple Division I scholarship offers, with Ohio State being the most recent.
The loss would be big, considering Kill said the team already lacked depth at wide receiver following spring practice.
McDonald recently told the publication GophersIllustrated,com: âÄúI have had some offers and I have had a lot of schools calling, but I really donâÄôt worry about that. I am more excited than ever to play for Minnesota and there is nothing that will change that.âÄù
McDonald told BuckeyeGrove.com, an Ohio State publication, that OSU has been his favorite school since he was a child. He still considers himself a âÄúsoft-verbalâÄù commit to Minnesota, but will play in the first Marine Corps All-American Game in January, at which time he will make his final decision between Minnesota, OSU and Iowa, he said.