Inside Texas Blog: VY, Durant and... Russell?

Longhorn fans have been blessed over the past few years to have two once-a-generation, if not once-in-a-lifetime, college athletes donning the Burnt Orange: Heisman winner, er, should've-been-Heisman-winner Vince Young for Mack Brown at DKR and every-player-of-the-year-award-winner Kevin Durant for Rick Barnes over at the Drum. I think it may be time to add another name, and venue, to that list.

With 10 games left in the Texas baseball regular season, Kyle Russell already owns sole possession of the Longhorn single season home run record. He grabbed it last Tuesday in Houston with an opposite field shot in the sixth inning, his 21st home run of the year. Since then, after an 0-fer game in the series opener vs. Nebraska, he's added three more to push his total to 24. In those three games, two wins over Nebraska and a mercy-rule win over UT Pan-Am at the Disch, Russell has 10 hits and 10 RBI in 15 official at-bats.

Interestingly, two of the three guys who Russell passed while climbing up the Texas home runs charts, former No. 2 Brooks Kieschnick (19 in 1993) and former No. 3 Scott Bryant (18 in 1989), won the Dick Howser Trophy presented annually to the nation's outstanding college baseball player. But, despite five CWS appearances and two national titles since Kieschnick brought home the ''93 award, the Longhorns have been shut out for 13 years.

That streak could, and probably should, end this year.

Along with the home run record, Russell also leads the NCAA in long balls this season (Louisiana Tech's Brian Rike is four back at 20) and his .933 slugging percentage also leads D-I and, if the season ended today, would shatter the former top mark in Texas history (.743 by John Langerhans in 1971). And for good measure, after his recent hot streak, including hitting for the cycle Tuesday night, Russell's .380 batting averages paces the Horns.

He's another in a recent line of generational talents at Texas, but you better catch him in Austin while you can. He's a draft eligible sophomore because he'll turn 21 this June, so like VY and Durant before him, his player of the year caliber season could be his last in the Orange and White.

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