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The word that Anderson County High School graduate Jacob Russell had transferred from Eastern Kentucky came rather quietly for someone who had been so highly touted just a year earlier when Russell was a high school senior and was named the state's Class 5A Player of the Year.
As Ryan Alves, of the Eastern Progress, reported, Russell left EKU after one season in Richmond. He transferred to the University of Kentucky, which could not comment on Russell's decision until he enrolled because of NCAA rules.
In Alves' story, which we ran on Jan. 26, Russell said, “Playing Division-I has always been a dream of mine. And so is playing in the SEC. I can't wait to get started.”
However, another quote in the story immediately raised some eyebrows. “When I signed on to play football (at EKU) this wasn't what I imagined. I want to be able to follow my dream and play in the NFL. ... I want to get the best out of myself.”
What that means is open to speculation. In Russell's past, he has wanted the ball when the game was on the line, whether it was football, basketball or baseball. He's wanted to go against the best in everything and has an incredible drive to succeed.
Yet, at Eastern, there were rumblings from the fan base that a year of eligibility was wasted when the coaching staff took his redshirt off in mid-season, then after a couple of games, put T.J. Pryor back under center.
Whether that played a part in the decision to leave EKU, I don't know. I have not talked to the young man about his decision to transfer.
What I do know is that Russell's chance at playing for UK improved on Monday when Ryan Mossakowski announced he was leaving the program and would be transferring. Mossakowski came to UK as a highly-touted, strong-armed quarterback out of Texas. He leaves without ever taking a meaningful snap.
Not that Russell would back down from the challenge. He would go up against anyone if given the chance. But one of the people in front of him is no longer in the Big Blue picture.
Russell will have to sit out a year as a transfer. He would be eligible in the fall of 2012, which would be Newton's senior year.
UK showed some interest in Russell while at Anderson County, but did not offer a scholarship. However, with Russell being a prototypical pocket passer that would seem to be a fit into UK's offense, you have to wonder if that was influenced by the assumption that Mossakowski would be around. (Remember, NCAA schools are limited on how many scholarships they can award, sometimes forcing coaches to make hard decisions based on numbers.)
It is going to be interesting at UK, for sure. From this corner, I would not sell Russell short.