Minnesota will be without two key defensive backs when it faces WSU in the Holiday Bowl
Minnesota will be without two starting defensive backs when it faces Washington State in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, Calif. on Dec. 27.
Minnesota’s athletic department announced Tuesday that 10 Golden Gophers football players have been suspended indefinitely from all team activities due to unspecified rules violations.
The list of 10 includes sophomore starting cornerback KiAnte Hardin, his primary backup Antonio Shenault, starting freshman safety Antonio Winfield Jr., and key backup defensive back Ray Buford.
Hardin and Shenault have combined to start every game for the Gophers at one of their two cornerback positions this year. Winfield Jr. started eight games of the final nine games of the season at safety and is Minnesota’s fourth-leading defender with 52 tackles.
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Hardin led Minnesota with two interceptions and also had 39 tackles, while Shenault played in 11 games and totaled 32 tackles. Buford played in seven games as a backup.
The other suspended players are mostly backups who saw limited action:
Sophomore running back Carlton Djam, freshman quarterback Seth Green, redshirt freshman defensive back Dior Johnson, freshman defensive lineman Tamarion Johnson, junior running back Kobe McCrary and freshman quarterback Mark Williams.
Of the six, only McCrary and Djam featured on the season stat sheet. McCrary is Minnesota’s No. 3 option at running back. He played in 11 games and had 39 carries for 246 yards with three touchdowns. Djam played in one game and had seven carries for 34 yards.
According to ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg, Buford, Hardin, Tamarion Johnson and Dior Johnson were suspended for three games earlier this season for a violation of team rules in relation to an alleged incident from Sept. 2, but were reinstated after the Hennepin (Minn.) County prosecutor declined to press charges.
These latest suspensions have followed Minnesota’s Title IX investigation into the Sept. 2 incident, Rittenberg wrote. Title IX investigations generally involve cases of gender discrimination, sexual harassment or sexual assault.
Ticket sales slow for the Golden Gophers
According to Minnesota’s athletic department spokesperson, as of Tuesday night, the Golden Gophers had sold about 2,500 tickets for the Holiday Bowl.
WSU’s ticket sales number stood at 7,500 by the end of last week, with the school having requested an extra 1,000 tickets from the Holiday Bowl after selling out their initial allotment of 7,000 tickets within the first 48 hours after the bowl game matchup was announced.