RB Gary Russell Will Not Return to Gophers

As had been speculated for months, Minnesota running back Gary Russell won't return to the team this year. That leaves the Gophers without both of their 1,000-yard rushers from last season, since Laurence Maroney left a year early for the NFL. Russell, who would've been a junior, is not enrolled in classes for the fall semester, school spokesman Shane Sandersfeld confirmed.

Gary Russell is ineligible for this season, and the chance of him playing college football again anywhere is slim. Academic failure forced Russell to drop out of the university this spring, and he attended Inver Hills Community college to try to better his grades.

Laurence Maroney and Russell each surpassed 1,000 yards rushing last year, making Minnesota the first school in NCAA history to have two 1,000-yard rushers in three consecutive seasons. Russell ran for 1,130 yards on 186 carries with 19 touchdowns as a sophomore.

Amir Pinnix, who rushed for 476 yards and averaged 6 yards per carry last year, leads the depth chart at running back. However, he missed spring practice, due to an injury. Brylee Callender, a JC transfer who played high school football for Lakeville, and redshirt freshman Jay Thomas, who is recovering from a torn ACL, are expected to compete for time.

The Gophers are scheduled to begin practice on Aug. 4 and they open the regular season versus Kent State Aug. 31.

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