Gopher RB Gary Russell Leaves School

Minnesota sophomore running back Gary Russell is no longer in school, due to academics. Russell is not enrolled in classes for the 2006 spring semester and will attend a junior college with the hopes of becoming eligible next season. Russell rushed 164 times for 1,045 yards (6.4 yards per carry) and 18 rushing touchdowns this season.

Gary Russell has been attending classes this semester but was not offically enrolled in the university.

If he is not able to rejoin the team, the Gophers would be very thin at running back with just Amir Pinnix having previous experience at the position. Freshman Jay Thomas suffered a torn ACL injury, which could force him to miss part of the upcoming season. The Gophers have returning fullback Justin Valentine, who could play runnning back, and newcomers Brylee Callender, E.J. Jones and Terrence Sherrer.

"I'm mostly frustrated and disappointed with myself because I could have avoided this problem," Russell told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "I messed up."

"While this is disappointing for everyone involved, we want what is best for Gary and will help him in any way allowable," said Gopher head football coach Glen Mason. "Gary has been a part of our family and we will continue to support him."

Russell, a sophomore running back, was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week as he set career highs in rushing attempts (28), yards (188) and touchdowns (3) to lead Minnesota to a road victory at Indiana for the first time since 1985 and bowl eligibility for the fourth straight season. With Big Ten rushing leader Laurence Maroney slowed by an ankle injury, Russell stepped up with his best effort of his college career.

Russell appeared in eight games as a freshman as he finished with 144 yards on 24 carries with a long of 15 yards.

Russell was a 2004 graduate of Walnut Ridge (OH) High and was named to the SuperPrep Midwest Team. He was an all-state selection, was a three-time all-city and all-conference performer and a two-time all-county and all-area choice. Russell gained 2,136 yards and scored 29 touchdowns his senior season after rushing for 1,800 yards and 29 scores his junior season. He played in the North-South All-Star Game and also lettered in wrestling and basketball.

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