Yesterday, the NCAA granted Gopher running back Donnell Kirkwood's request for a medical hardship waiver. Kirkwood, who saw action in three games last year for the Gophers, will join a backfield situation that will include two seniors (Duane Bennett and DeLeon Eskridge) as well as two other redshirt freshmen (Lamonte Edwards and Devon Wright) in what should be an interesting battle for playing time.
Any athlete that meets the NCAA's minimum academic standards coming out of high school gets four years of NCAA Division I eligibility. To get a medical hardship waiver, an athlete can not have participated in more than 20 percent of their team's contests, and all of their participation would have needed to take place in the first half of the season. This applies to all sports, not just football.
That means, in Kirkwood's case, he would have had to have played in no more than three games, and not have seen any on-field action at all after the sixth game of the year. As Kirkwood only saw action in three games this season (against Middle Tennessee State, USC, and Northern Illinois), all of which were in the first half of the year before being injured, he met the qualifications to apply for the medical hardship waiver.
Kirkwood carried the ball 27 times for 112 yards in his limited action in 2010. Here's hoping that he can make the best of his new opportunity.