ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Demry Croft is one of the most talented quarterbacks in NIC-10 history. Maybe the most talented. He set numerous school records when he was at Rockford Boylan through his senior season in the fall of 2014. National scouting services rated him one of the top dual-threat high school quarterbacks in the nation.
But his football career and his life later went off track first at the University of Minnesota, then at Tennessee State, and also here in Rockford.
Croft was charged with multiple counts of rape, sexual battery and domestic violence. Croft has never been found guilty of any of those things. The charges were all dropped.
Croft feels like he never had a chance to tell his side of the story on any of these matters, so he reached out to me a couple weeks ago. I agreed to allow him to tell his side of the story. Do not take that as an indication that we at WTVO and Fox 39 believe his accounts, or we do not believe his accounts. We have no idea what has actually happened in the past or what has not happened. That’s for the judicial system to decide.
PART ONE: Croft and the broken door at Minnesota.
(SCOTT LEBER QUESTION) Why did you want to meet with me today? Why did you want to do this interview?
(CROFT) “So, today I wanted to meet with you Scott because for the past couple years I’ve been going through a lot of different things off the field legal casewise, and prior to that I left Minnesota kind of on a limb on a weird question. Everybody wanted to know why I left. Here today, I’m ready to start and tell that story.”
(LEBER) Here’s what happened to Croft in Minnesota. He was the Golden Gophers’ starting quarterback under head coach P.J. Fleck during his redshirt sophomore season in 2017. He had some great moments, like the Michigan State game when he passed for three touchdowns.
Against Oregon State he had a 64-yard touchdown run. In a win over Nebraska, he set the Minnesota rushing record by a quarterback rushing for 183 yards and scoring three touchdowns. For that, he was named the Big Ten’s co-offensive player of the week.
There were also some rocky moments. Croft’s passing was inconsistent. His completion percentage was below 42 percent, but the rockiest moment that season came off the field.
In the middle of the season Croft was suspended indefinitely after he was accused of vandalizing a door in an apartment complex on campus. That’s when Croft’s relationship with Fleck disintegrated.
(CROFT) “We had a fallout when he said I damaged a door, and he told my teammates that I broke down a girls’ dormitory room. (He said) I kicked it in actually, and that never happened. There’s a video for that.”
(LEBER) There is. Croft’s father Robert recorded this video on his phone when it was emailed to him by a member of security on Minnesota’s campus. First it shows Croft waiting to enter the apartment unable to get in because it was locked. You’ll notice the door handle is attached to the door. A few minutes later two female residents entered through the door. That’s when the door handle falls, apparently broken. Then Croft entered.
(CROFT) “It was a regular apartment complex, and I was going to visit a friend of mine.”
(LEBER QUESTION) It looked like there were two other young ladies who came in before you.
(CROFT) “Yea, I didn’t know who they were. They were just two random people who lived there too.”
(LEBER QUESTION) It looked like maybe they somehow unlocked the door and then you followed them in. Is that what happened?
(CROFT) “Yea. The door handle dropped when they pulled on it. It opened up the door and dropped on it.”
(LEBER QUESTION) Did you at any point tamper with the door, do anything before those two young women arrived?
(CROFT) “No, not at all.”
(LEBER QUESTION) So you did nothing to damage the door in any way?
(CROFT) “No sir.”
(LEBER) Croft was ordered to pay for part of the damages to the door along with being suspended temporarily from the football team at Minnesota. The damage to the door was nothing compared to the strain that was put on the relationship between Croft and coach Fleck.
(CROFT) “I was indefinitely suspended, like right after that had happened. Never really got the chance to tell my side of the story.
(LEBER QUESTION) Okay, so you did talk to coach Fleck about the door incident, or you did not?
(CROFT) “Oh yea. We definitely talked about it because he indefinitely suspended me from the team. It’s just I didn’t get to actually voice my opinion on his decision from that situation.”
(LEBER) At the end of that 2017 season, Croft was ready to leave Minnesota. He transferred to Tennessee State where his football career again got thrown off track when he was accused of rape.
The second of this three-part interview, in which Croft said he suing Tennessee State for violating his Title IX rights after a rape accusation, can be found here.
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