Maryland football players dispute reason for fight at practice following DJ Durkin’s return

Maryland punter Matt Barber said he was assaulted by a teammate at former head coach DJ Durkin’s first practice back with the Terrapins. But on Thursday, many players refuted Barber’s reason as to why the incident occurred.

The Baltimore Sun reported Barber was assaulted at the end of practice Tuesday by a player who supported Durkin. The 21-year-old backup punter told the Sun that the fight was because of his role as a “whistleblower” when speaking to investigators during their two-month examination into allegations of abuse within Maryland’s football program.

Barber said the incident involved punter Wade Lees, who turned to Twitter on Thursday to refute the reasoning behind the altercation.

“The reports about the altercation between me and Matt Barber are far from the truth,” Lees wrote. “There are many inaccuracies in the way he portrays that day. Additionally, the altercation had nothing to do with Coach Durkin’s reinstatement. I have never tried to force my opinions on someone else. I have over 100 teammates that can back me on that.”

My Statement!! pic.twitter.com/0chnHYwuaO

A number of other Terrapins also disputed Barber’s account in which Barber said, “Lees attacked him” and attempted “to punch him in the face.”

Barber added that when other players intervened in an attempt to break up the fight, they grabbed his arms behind his back. This allowed Lees to punch Barber repeatedly in the face, which left him with a black eye and in need of multiple stitches on his forehead as well as a dislocated shoulder, Barber said.

Linebacker Tre Watson, offensive guard Ellis McKennie and defensive lineman Oseh-Lie Saine all tweeted that they believed the report from Barber was false.

This piece of fabrication is an absolute joke and mockery of our team! Not gonna affect us moving forward in any way https://t.co/7C3NJhak67

This is a lie. https://t.co/SVbQv488B6

This is absolutely fake. kids lying out his mouth, this altercation had nothing to do with the coach Durkin situation had everything to do with him picking on a younger players. There were many witnesses and wade has the total support of everyone here https://t.co/bnPhj8CKfw

Other Maryland players also weighed in.

Fake news! https://t.co/cknaKxXcbt

Never happened ❗️❗️ https://t.co/4XCOTLimLs

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One on One confrontation don’t believe what y’all hearing man smh Wade a good man. Those reports are no where near the truth

On Tuesday, Durkin was reinstated on the recommendation of Maryland’s Board of Regents. During a team meeting when Durkin’s return was announced, multiple players reportedly walked out, and after public backlash grew, the school fired Durkin on Wednesday.

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