Russell Leaning Towards Turning Pro

"They (NFL scouts) wanted to see me catch a lot of balls this year. But the main thing was for them to see if last year was a fluke and for me to repeat the type of yards that I had and to stay healthy. That was one of the main things that I had to do. Pretty much, I'm showing that."--Fred Russell. To read more of Fred talking about turning pro next season, read this Q & A from today's press conference event.

Has your time here gone fast?

Somewhat fast. There were a lot of ups and downs.

Personally? The team?

There were just a lot of ups and downs with my career here and with the team too.

Have you decided for sure that this will be your last home game?

I'll just tell it like I told Coach Ferentz. I mean, we sent some papers in for some senior bowls and whatnot that were sent to me. We just told him that if I stay healthy before that and if things look all right for me, (I'm leaving).

So this will most likely be your last game if you stay healthy?

Yeah. If I stay healthy. I mean, I've got two more games to go. So, we'll see what happens.

Three.

Yeah. Three more. I'm sorry. (laughter)

You're not going to play in the bowl game?

(Laughs) Yeah. I'm going to play in the bowl game.

What are you hearing from NFL scouts through the coaches?

Really, they wanted to see me catch a lot of balls this year. But the main thing was for them to see if last year was a fluke and for me to repeat the type of yards that I had and to stay healthy. That was one of the main things that I had to do. Pretty much, I'm showing that.

How often are you being called by agents?

It's rough. But, I don't answer my apartment phone. Some of them find ways to get your cell phone number.

Do you have someone that talks to them? Does your mom talk to them?

That's what I do. I just send them to my parents and let them talk to them and just tell them that I will talk to them at the end of the season.

What kind of round are they talking about?

It varies. There could be a team in the second round that needs a change-of-pace back. That's how they're looking at me.

Do you think Coach Ferentz will try to talk you out of it?

We've talked about it a little bit off and on. He was just saying that if I stay healthy and I'm having a good year, then there's no need for me to come back next year because nothing is going to change about what they're saying about me.

What all-star games have you put in for?

Right now, it's the Hula Bowl.

Is it a tough decision from a personal standpoint? How did you approach it?

It was a tough decision because I've got some records in front of me that I could break. I could be the second back, I think, to try to go for 1,000 yards in three straight seasons. But, I'm about to graduate and am ready for the next step in my life.

How much does age play into it? It did for Dallas.

I'm 23, and I haven't had a job in my life. It's time for me to really be on my own. A lot of my teammates have had a job, and I have never had one. My parents do so much for me. I've got to get ready for that next step in my life and to be on my own.

How much money is out there for you?

I'm not sure. The draft is weird. Everybody here was sure that Eric Steinbach was going to go in the first round. That's just how things work out.

Have you talked to Dallas or Eric or any of those guys from last year about it?

No. I talk to Ladell a lot. He was just telling me it's a weird thing. Once the season is over, you've just got to answer some of the questions that they wanted to see in the season. Just keep working hard, that's what he told me.

How do you prove to them that you can catch a ball?

They have come here and throw passes to you. At the senior bowls, they will work on your weakness.

Is the Senior Bowl in Alabama the one that one want to get in?

Yeah. I was a little disappointed that I haven't heard from them yet. But, last year, Colin got invited to it kind of late. He got invited to it. He didn't get drafted. Derek Pagel went to the Hula Bowl and he got drafted. That's the bright side. The East-West (Shrine), the Senior Bowl and the Hula Bowl are pretty much the top three.

What kind of back do you see yourself being at the next level?

It's hard going in and saying you're a starter right away. There are only a few backs that can say that. But Tim Dwight went in as a return specialist. He kept working hard and found a way to get himself paid like a starter. When you first go in, they say a lot of things about you. It's like starting over again; just proving the doubters wrong.

But what do you see yourself as?

I see myself going in as a change-of-pace back. But playing in the Big Ten, I feel this is one of the best conferences in the nation as far as running the ball. I put up two back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons here. So, I feel when I get my opportunity, that I'll show that I can be an every-down back.

Do you want to get a chance to show scouts that you can return kicks?

Yeah. With the return thing, that doesn't really play into it. Ladell returns kicks there, and he never returned kicks here. I never saw him practice returning a kick here. They'll pretty much do with you what they want to do with you up there.

Not that you don't have the incentive to play well all of the time, but is there added motivation that this is likely your last game at Kinnick?

I had a bad game last week. I'm real determined to bounce back. I haven't had back-to-back bad games. I hope I don't have a bad game this game.


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