Former top recruit Jeff Jones has left the Gophers football program. Last year's four-star recruit will transfer to Iowa Western Community College.
The news came out Wednesday afternoon in an interview between Gophers football coach Tracy Claeys and the Star Tribune's Joe Christensen. According to the report, Jones will transfer "after falling behind academically this [fall] semester."
He was recruited to Minnesota as a four-star running back out of Minneapolis Washburn, where he ran for 1,525 yards and scored 42 touchdowns as a senior and earned Minnesota's Mr. Football.
Rivals.com had ranked him as the seventh best running back in the Class of 2014 and Jones was named the co-MVP of the Under Armor All-America Game.
Jones sat out 2014 to become academically eligible, then dealt with a variety of injuries and other issues as he tried to find his role with the Gophers. He played in just three games with Minnesota this year, mostly on special teams – none after Minnesota's Sept. 26 victory over Ohio.
KFAN.com notes that Jones moved from running back to wide receiver then finally slotted in his new permanent role as a defensive back.
Claeys didn't close the door that Jones could return to Minnesota after his time at Iowa Western and even suggested Jones return to running back at his new school
"He's a great kid – a great kid," Claeys told the Star Tribune. "He's more than welcome to come back. He just had a tough semester academically, and it really wasn't until this semester."