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Top MAC Football Players Of 2013: #62, Alonzo Russell, Toledo WR

It's not often a freshman is able to take the redshirt off and immediately contribute to the team. Then again, it's not often a freshman is 6'4" and runs like a bolt of lightning.

Alonzo Russell made an immediate impact on the team the moment he took off the redshirt. (Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE )
Alonzo Russell made an immediate impact on the team the moment he took off the redshirt. (Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE )
Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

Alonzo Russell's 2012 season was a storybook from start to finish. The 2012 Spring Prospectus lumped him in with the "and the rest" bit of the receivers: not unexpected when you consider his youth. But with every secondary's focus solely on Bernard Reedy, 'Zo was able to break that as soon as the season started by scoring the first touchdown of the season, a 59 yard touchdown pass from Terrance Owens against Arizona.

He'd go on to catch 4 more TDs last year, along with 56 catches for 960 yards. He broke 100 yards in two games: He put up 152 yards on 6 catches against Bowling Green (that included a beauty of a 66 yard TD catch), and again at Akron, where he put 2 scores on the board en route to 139 yards on 9 catches. He just missed out on the century mark twice: 97 yards against Coastal Carolina, and 98 yards in the track meet that was the Eastern Michigan game.

It's not hard to see why the kid became a favored target: he's tall enough to reach anything you throw his way. He found his way into the flats a lot, because it put him in position to grab balls that the defenders couldn't get to.

As a sophomore, his job is simple in 2013: work on the fundamentals, and keep getting open. He has the benefit of being on the same field with Bernard Reedy, so a lot of the defensive attention will go towards the senior. But come the year after that, it'll be all eyes on 'Zo, and he needs to be prepared for that.