Randy Russell is a member of Florida’s 2018 class, and he’s already on campus in Gainesville with the aim of getting the fastest start possible on his college football career. But Russell won’t play a snap for the Gators, and it has nothing to do with his playing ability.
Russell announced Thursday his career has ended due to a heart condition. Florida spokesman Steve McClain said the condition was discovered during a physical exam conducted by Florida’s team doctors.
“A week ago, I began my journey as a student athlete at the University of Florida,” Russell wrote in a Twitter post. “Today, I was diagnosed with hypothermic cardiomyopathy. A heart condition that prevents me from continuing with the hopes of playing college football and becoming a professional football player.”
According to WebMD, hypothermic cardiomyopathy is “associated with thickening of the heart muscle, most commonly at the septum between the ventricles, below the aortic valve. This leads to stiffening of the walls of the heart and abnormal aortic and mitral heart valve function, both of which may impede normal bloodflow out of the heart.”
Symptoms range from chest pain and shortness of breath (both of which are exacerbated by exercise), to heart palpations, to even sudden death.
“As tragic as this is for Randy and his family to hear this news, this discovery is life-saving for him,” Gators head coach Dan Mullen said in a statement. “We will be fully supportive in any way we can for Randy and his family. He will continue to be a part of the Gator football family and we will assist him in his academic pursuits at the University of Florida.”
Russell was a 3-star safety from Miami’s Carol City High School.
And you can pardon the whole of the state of Arkansas if they let out a collective “thank goodness.”
Citing multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, Brett Vito of the Denton Record-Chronicle is reporting that Cole Hedlund is transferring to North Texas. After redshirting as a true freshman in 2014 at Arkansas, Hedlund spent the next three seasons as a placekicker for the Razorbacks.
The Argyle, Tex., native opted to transfer from UA for his final season of eligibility. He’s the youngest son of UNT women’s soccer coach John Hedlund.
For his career with the Razorbacks, Hedlund hit on 14 of his 24 field goal attempts. He also connected on all 91 extra point attempts. His best season came in 2015 when he led the team in scoring with 85 points.
The past season, however, was a rough one. After missing both field goal attempts in a Sept. 9 loss to TCU — the misses came from 20 and 23 yards out — Hedlund never attempted another kick for the Razorbacks the rest of the season.
“It was basically a PAT, and it was a perfect protection and a perfect snap. It’s inexcusable,” then-head coach Bret Bielema said at the time.
A constant on BYU’s defensive staff for nearly two decades has taken himself out of the football program’s equation.
The Cougars announced Friday that Steve Kaufusi has stepped down from his post as linebackers coach. Per the school, Kaufusi’s departure was triggered by his desire to pursue other unspecified interests.
Kaufusi, whose wife Michelle is the mayor of Provo and has two sons who will play for the Cougars this season, had spent the past 16 seasons with BYU. From 2002-16, he coached the defensive line; he took over linebackers in 2017 and spent one season overseeing that position.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to coach at BYU for the past 16 seasons,” Kaufusi said. “I’m honored to have had the opportunity to represent the University and everything it stands for. I will always be a Cougar and look forward to watching my sons play at BYU.”
“Anyone who knows Steve knows he is an exceptional coach and mentor to young men, which you can see in the players he has coached over the years and also in his own family,” head coach Kalani Sitake said. “I wish Steve nothing but the best for his future.”
In tandem with the Kaufusi announcement, the program also confirmed that Preston Hadley has been hired. Hadley, who played defensive back for the Cougars and coached at Weber State the past two seasons, will coach safeties in his return.
Ed Lamb, who was responsible for safeties, will take over Kaufusi’s linebackers. All other coaches on the defensive side of the ball will maintain their current positions.
Mark Dantonio looked inside and out of his football program to fill some holes in his Michigan State staff.
Nearly two weeks ago, Harlon Barnett left as MSU’s co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach to take a job at Florida State. That left Dantonio with two openings, one of which the head coach closed Friday by promoting Mike Tressel to defensive coordinator.
Tressel and Barnett had served as co-coordinators the past three seasons; the nephew of former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel will now serve as the Spartans’ solo coordinator moving forward.
“Mike has done a tremendous job working with the defense,” said Dantonio in a statement. “He’s been deeply involved with everything with the defense since we first arrived here, and has helped coach some championship defenses that have been ranked consistently among the best in the nation, year in and year out. He did a great job as co-coordinator the past three years. He’s certainly earned this opportunity and I think he’ll do an outstanding job.”
To replace Barnett as defensive backs coach, Dantonio turned to Paul Haynes. The past five years, Haynes was the head coach at Kent State before being dismissed at the end of the 2017 regular season.
This serves as a homecoming of sorts for Haynes as well. From 2003-04, he was the defensive backs coach for the Spartans under John Smith.
The 48-year-old Haynes has also been a secondary coach at Arkansas (2012), Ohio State (2005-10), Louisville (2002) and Kent State (1999).
“We’re very, very excited about Paul,” said Dantonio. “He’s coached here before so he’s got a Spartan background. He was secondary coach and co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State, so he’s coached on the highest level with the secondary. He was a defensive coordinator at Arkansas as well. He’s been a head coach at Kent State, so I think that gives him a big picture feel. I think he’s an excellent recruiter. He’s a dynamic person as well, so we’re excited to have him on campus.”
Exactly 45 days after being announced as Florida State’s new head coach, Willie Taggart has put the finishing touches on his first Seminoles staff.
Friday night, FSU confirmed that Taggart has completed his 10-man staff with the additions of five new assistants. It was reported this week that Maryland offensive coordinator Walt Bell would be taking the same job at FSU; the school confirmed as much today, with Bell also taking over as quarterbacks coach.
The other four hires consisted of Greg Frey (offensive line/running-game coordinator), David Kelly (wide receivers/recruiting coordinator), Mark Snyder (defensive ends) and Alonzo Hampton (special teams coordinator).
That fivesome joins the other five assistants previously announced:
- Harlon Barnett, defensive coordinator and defensive back
- Odell Haggins, associate head coach and defensive tackles
- Raymond Woodie, linebackers
- Telly Lockette, tight ends
- Donte’ Pimpleton, running backs
Haggins is the lone holdover from Jimbo Fisher‘s last staff.
“From the beginning of this process, my goal was to bring in the best coaches for our program and I believe we have done that,” Taggart said. “This group will do a great job of recruiting, developing, coaching and mentoring our student-athletes to reach their highest potential. I’m excited for the next few weeks as we are finalizing our 2018 signing class and then working with our team as we prepare for spring practice.”