The influx of college coaches and success of dual-threat QBs apparently has caught the eye of former No. 1 draft pick and NFL bust JaMarcus Russell, who is reportedly attempting a comeback to the league.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Kristian Dyer, Russell has "the itch" to play football again. Now at around 308 pounds, Russell is "down from" the 320 pounds he weighed in the fall and is working on a conditioning program that will get him back into football shape.
It appears Russell is serious about a climb back to the NFL ranks. The 27-year-old is aligning himself with noted professionals that will help not only get his weight down, but also fix some of the issues he had as a pocket passer when he was with the Oakland Raiders.
Per Dyer's report:
Yahoo! Sports has learned that Russell’s mentor through this whole process is former NFL wide receiver Mike Clayton, who like Russell is a LSU product.
In addition, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia (quarterback technique training), Olympian Ato Boldon (speed training and analysis), Dr. Robert Price of Elite Minds (mental and psychological analysis), former NFL wide receiver Quinn Early (disciplinary work and focus), former New York Giants quarterback Scott Brunner (reading defenses and classroom sessions) and NFL Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk (reading defenses) will work as part of the team trying to reclaim the quarterback’s promise.
Drafted No. 1 out of LSU in 2007, Russell began his career by holding out until the beginning of the regular season. He eventually signed for five years and $39 million in guaranteed cash.
Russell was supposed to be the franchise game-changer that the Raiders so desperately needed since their last Super Bowl appearance in 2002.
It's an understatement to say that he never filled that role.
In three seasons with the Raiders, Russell played in just 31 games, won only seven as a starting QB, and finished with a career 52.1 completion percentage while tossing five more interceptions (23) than touchdowns (18).
After releasing the QB in 2010, the Raiders filed a grievance to recover $9.55 million from Russell in what was paid as salary advances for the 2010-12 seasons.
ESPN's Darren Rovell recently deemed Russell's contract the worst in sports history.
Russell says in the Yahoo! report that he's motivated by all the criticisms that have haunted him since he was unceremoniously dropped from the NFL.
“The last few years, the things going through my life, football is my job and it is how it feeds my family. People would say [that] I didn’t love the game but that pisses me off. People don’t know the real you but I want people to know the real me and see what I can do. People are always saying that I’m a bust. I want show them I’m not. I’m committed to this now.”
He last made headlines in 2010, when he was arrested for possession of codeine syrup at his Alabama home. He's been out of the league and out of everything—except QB fat jokes and biggest-NFL-draft-bust lists—since then.
Russell had unlimited potential due to his 6'6" frame and a rocket arm. With the proper training and a work ethic that outshines some of his off-the-field issues, Russell could be an intriguing free-agent pickup for a team willing to take the chance on the quarterback.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team. Check him out on Twitter.