There is a growing club of Minnesota kids who leave the great state from which they came for the lure of 1 win seasons in South Bend, corn feeds in Lincoln, large cheerleaders in Madison and various other institutions of higher learning. But this club is more exclusive than those who just leave us, you also have to come back home to finish your career here. Dan Coleman and Lawrence McKenzie are recent examples to come back to the raised floor of the Barn (makes you think twice about leaving for a national championship doesn't it Cole Aldrich). Earlier this spring Matt Carufel decided he wasn't getting a quality enough education at Notre Dame and heard from Sid he'd be set for life if he graduated from Minnesota so he came back to play football (or something like that). And we now have Mr. Kim Royston leaving the Badger program and coming home to play for the surging Gophers.
What makes Royston's transfer interesting is that he was not given a release from his Badger scholarship. This meant he was unable to have any contact with the Gopher coaching staff. And because he is transfering within the Big Ten Royston is not only forced to sit a season for transferring he is also forced to pay his own tuition to the U for his remaining three seasons (transfer year and two seasons of eligibility).
Apparently Royston felt he was not given a fair opportunity to compete for the starting FS position in spring football as he was promised. According to his father position battles at SS and QB were allowing split reps with the first team but Royston was not given one snap with the first team defense. Some excellent quotes and a good recap of the situation from The Capital Times...
I agree and I'm certainly not a rocket scientist. But I have also been on the coaching side of college athletics and the way a player views things and the way a coach sees things are often very different. Let's let coach Beilema have a say here...
Chris Royston said his son was disappointed when the coaching staff released a depth chart prior to spring practice that had Kim Royston listed behind Carter. Kim Royston was even more disappointed when, during the Badgers' first two practices of the spring, Carter got all the reps with the No. 1 defense.
In Chris and Kim Royston's minds, that was a clear sign the coaching staff already had decided Carter would remain the starter.
"He was not going to be allowed to compete for a spot at free safety," Chris Royston said of his son, who played cornerback and both safety positions during his UW career. "This year at strong safety, they're alternating, they're competing for a spot. And at the quarterback positions, they're alternating, they're competing for a spot. Coaches can say you're competing, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that isn't the case."
So it is clearly a he said / she said (sorry for inferring you are a woman coach Beilema) situation. I'm going to take Royston's side here though (shocking, I know). Royston isn't claiming he was better or deserved the starting spot, his beef is that he felt he was told he'd be given the opportunity to compete and it appears that he was not actually given that opportunity.
According to Bielema, Royston was being given an opportunity to win the starting spot.
"Everybody in our program has an equal shot," Bielema said. "Anytime you are personally involved in situation, you see things in a little bit different light. I can appreciate what he's saying, but we had lengthy discussions. He was the No. 2 free safety behind Shane Carter and I really liked the development at that position at this point.
With that behind us let us look forward to the Royston family joining Gopher Nation. Royston at a bare minimum will add depth to a thin and young defensive secondary. At best he'll take his third year at the college level to continue his growth/development and will be a starter for two season at either FS or CB. My best guess is that 2009 when he is eligible to play he will compete and be the frontrunner to start at opposite Traye Simmons at CB. But like I said, worst case scenario he is just quality depth for the entire defensive backfield.
The 2008 recruiting class was the most talented in the program's history, The 2009 class will be limited in scholarships (16 is the number I have heard) but will also get a boost in talent with Carufel and Royston joining the 2009 team. This is good news for Gopher fans and should help to further the development of the program. Welcome back Mr. Royston.