It wasn't exactly the easiest conversation to have.
But Jacob Russell knew it was time to have it.
He was a quarterback at Eastern Kentucky University, but he knew that wasn't where he wanted to be.
"It's always been my dream to play at the highest level of college football and if I didn't do that, then I wasn't challenging myself the most I could," Russell said of his decision to leave a full ride at EKU and enroll as a preferred walk-on for Kentucky. "It's always been my dream and I would have regretted it the rest of my life if I hadn't made the jump up."
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So Russell, a 6-foot-4 sophomore transfer who starred at Anderson County, went home and told his parents his plans.
Did they think he was crazy to leave a place where he had everything paid for, where he had played in seven games as a true freshman (throwing for 125 yards, rushing for 84 yards and scoring two touchdowns) and transfer to a place like UK where nothing is promised?
"At first, yes," he said when asked if they questioned his sanity. "But they're always supporting me and they do now.
"I have a different feeling than I did at Eastern. I can compete and be the best player I can be here."
With senior Morgan Newton still rehabbing a surgically repaired shoulder, Russell has been getting repetitions with the second team behind Maxwell Smith.
Russell has embraced the opportunity, said Randy Sanders, UK quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator.
"Jake has some ability, can do some good things," Sanders said. "I expect him to compete like he wants to be a starter. I'm glad he's on our team because he's a good enough player to be on this team and be a contributor."
The quarterback, who was an All-Stater in three sports for Anderson County, including being the school's all-time leading scorer in basketball, graduated with a 4.0 grade-point average.
He sounds like the ultimate support player.
"I just want to be the best player I can be," Russell said. "If the best me can be on the field, then so be it. But if somebody's better than me, when I'm at my best, then it's going to make the team a whole lot better.
"I'm not worried about first, second, third string."
Sanders said the walk-on, who played on the scout team last year, is proving himself daily.
"He's got the attitude that he wants to be the starter and that's the kind of attitude we want," Sanders said. "This is a great opportunity for him with Morgan being out to get a whole lot more reps than he would have been otherwise."
Two players the coaches are watching closely during the limited spring practice time are Bookie Cobbins and Marcus Caffey, who are being repositioned to get them on the field this season.
Cobbins was recruited as a quarterback and moved to wide receiver. Caffey was moved from the deep stable of running backs to the cornerback spot.
Caffey put on 10 pounds in the off-season for the position change and is No. 1 on the spring depth chart.
"He looks like a guy who can help us," Phillips said.
UK recruited Caffey as a tailback and gave him a chance at that spot, but they want to get him on the field, which required a position switch.
"He could be a tailback, but we feel like his best chance to help this team in a hurry, make us a better football team, is at the corner position," Phillips said. "He gives us some size."
The Cats were giving up 70-plus pounds at both corner spots last season, Phillips said.
For Cobbins, a 6-foot, 191-pound redshirt freshman, his familiarity with the passing game has helped him, but he's still trying to learn some things.
"Still a tough transition," Phillips explained. "You have to learn to run routes instead of the coverages. He struggled a little bit early. I think he knew the routes, just not the adjustments on the routes versus the coverages."
Delic determined to return
It hasn't been an easy few months for Nermin Delic. He gave up football in the fall after a series of injuries made him question whether it was worth it to continue to play.
But a few months at home reminded the 6-5, 180-pound defensive tackle what he was missing. According to a report in the Dalton (Ga.) Daily Citizen, Delic asked Phillips if he could return this spring and the coach approved.
The Daily Citizen reported that Delic endured three surgeries in three months: to repair a torn groin, to remove a blood clot and to remove a rib.
"With all the injuries I went through, I just needed some time for myself, to think things over," Delic told his local paper. "I made a decision without thinking through things."
Phillips said the Cats are glad to have him back, but the player, who had five tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced a fumble as a freshman, has some things to prove.
"He's a guy that left right when we all were excited about him," Phillips said this week. "He has to show us, his teammates, that he's committed to really wanting to be here. ... He has to do it in the off– season, can't do it during the season, (he has) to do it now."
'Next guy up'
Pat Washington (receivers) and Mike Cassity (defensive backs) haven't just been trying to fade into the woodwork as they have started their new positions.
"They're two loud guys," Phillips said. "They're chasing their guys down the field. They're demanding on the kids. I'm excited about having them. Those guys are great teachers."
Phillips said he learned firsthand just how impressive they were as teachers by taking their classes himself.
"This off-season, I actually went into each meeting room, sat in the back and listened to not just the new coaches, but every coach," he said. "The thing is we've got great teachers."
When asked if it's taken time for the receivers and defensive players to get used to the newbies, Phillips shook his head.
"It just works," the coach said. "It's the next guy up and our players understand that."