Meinke leaving Minnesota football team

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota offensive lineman Jason Meinke is leaving the football program to focus on academics.

Coach Tim Brewster made the announcement Wednesday. Meinke played 17 games for the Gophers, including eight starts. The Gophers have made upgrading the offensive line one of the team's biggest priorities heading into next season.

Despite seeing plenty of playing time, Meinke was well down the depth chart even though he would have been a senior. Newcomers Matt Carufel, who transferred from Notre Dame, and junior college transfer Jeff Wills have stepped into starting roles.

Brewster said in a statement: "We thank Jason for his contributions and his hard work and wish him the best."