The Gophers running back-by-committee approach will operate with one fewer member of that committee after Cam Wiley announced Monday on Twitter that he is entering the transfer portal.
The third-year sophomore had fallen behind other backs on the roster and had only six carries for 4 yards this season. In the 30-23 victory over Nebraska on Saturday, Wiley appeared in two plays but did not carry the ball. Junior Bryce Williams rushed 17 times for 127 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown. True freshman Mar'Keise "Bucky'' Irving carried seven times for 28 yards, and redshirt freshman Ky Thomas rushed seven times for 23 yards.
"Cam Wiley is an awesome young man and I'm sad to see him go,'' Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said in his Monday news conference. "But there are some reasons why he wanted to go and get closer to home and his family, and I wish him all the best and support him 100 percent.''
In his statement, Wiley thanked Fleck and running backs coach Kenni Burns and wrote, "This is one of the hardest decisions I had to make, and saying goodbye to my brothers wasn't easy.''
Wiley, a three-star recruit out of Desert Pines High School in Las Vegas in 2019, appeared in 12 games in his three-year Gophers career, rushing 46 times for 215 yards and one touchdown. He also had five catches for 26 yards and a TD and had 252 yards on 15 kickoff returns. He will have three years of eligibility remaining, factoring in the 2020 COVID-19 season in which players were not charged a year.
With Mohamed Ibrahim and Trey Potts already lost for the season because of injuries, Wiley's departure leaves the Gophers with only three healthy scholarship running backs: Williams, Irving and Thomas. Former walk-on Preston Jelen was awarded a scholarship during training but is out because of a knee injury. The only other running back on the team's roster is walk-on Kendall Moore.
The Gophers also have used quarterback Cole Kramer in the wildcat formation, and he has rushed 16 times for 74 yards and a TD.
Wiley's announcement marked the second time in as many weeks that a Gophers player decided to enter the transfer portal. Guard Curtis Dunlap Jr., an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection in 2019 who started the first three games this season, made his decision last week.
"They have the option to do what they feel is best for them. I think that is what the whole portal was designed for,'' Fleck said. "Whether it's earlier in the year, before the year, midyear, anytime, there is no time limit on it.''
- Wide receiver Daniel Jackson, who missed the Nebraska game because of injury, is questionable for the Maryland game, Fleck said. Jackson ranks second on the team with 14 receptions and fourth with 155 receiving yards.
- The Big Ten announced that the Gophers game at Northwestern on Oct. 30 will start at 2:30 p.m. and be televised on BTN. That will be the second consecutive 2:30 start for the Gophers, who are host to Maryland at 2:30 Saturday on ESPN2.