Before last Thursday night, ex-Kentucky quarterback Ryan Mossakowski hadn't stood in the pocket to throw a football in a real game in two-and-a-half years.
On the same night UK compiled 190 total yards in a 14-3 win against Western Kentucky in Nashville, Mossakowski was lighting up the scoreboard for the Northwest Mississippi Community College Rangers.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound sophomore completed 20 of 37 passes with one interception for 443 yards and five touchdowns in a 56-55 overtime win over Pearl River. He also ran for two touchdowns on a pair of 1-yard runs.
"I was nervous, excited, just happy to get back out there in a real game," the former Wildcats quarterback said over the phone Tuesday. "And once I got back out there and completed a pass, it felt like old times again. It felt really good."
It was the first time the QB had passed in a real game since tearing the labrum in his throwing shoulder in 2008 at Centennial High School in Frisco, Texas, and then having it surgically repaired. Mossakowski said he felt no lingering effects.
"I felt like myself. I feel exactly the same as I felt (before the surgery)," he said. "But that wasn't new. It's been like that for a long time now."
In UK football lore, Mossakowski and current Kentucky starting quarterback Morgan Newton will always be linked. Both officially picked the Wildcats on national signing day, 2009. Each was ranked as a four-star prospect by at least one major recruiting service.
His shoulder issues led to Mossakowski being redshirted at UK in 2009. After then-Kentucky starting quarterback Mike Hartline was injured at South Carolina in the fifth game of the '09 season, true freshman Newton ended up starting the final eight games.
A healthy Hartline reclaimed the Kentucky starting position in 2010. But after he was suspended for the BBVA Compass Bowl with Pittsburgh, Newton was immediately named the starter.
Though the UK offense struggled against Pitt in a 27-10 loss, Mossakowski did not get into the game.
Soon after, he announced he would transfer.
"I expected to play some in the bowl," Mossakowski said. "To be honest, I felt like I deserved to. I'm not going to lie, that was a piece of why I decided to leave."
Before he transferred, Mossakowski said he had a long heart-to-heart with Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders.
"It was a personal conversation between me and them and I don't think I should say much about it," Mossakowski said. "They were very honest. I had a lot of questions and they answered them for me. I understand where they were coming from."
Once he decided to leave Lexington, Mossakowski said he was looking at junior colleges because he could both play without sitting out a season and have a chance to transfer back to a major-college football program.
Northwest Mississippi offensive coordinator Jack Wright contacted him. The ex-UK QB said he needed to make sure that head coach Ricky Woods' offense threw the ball. "I didn't want to go someplace where they ran the option," Mossakowski said.
The Mississippi circuit has long been considered among the top junior college leagues in the country. Mossakowski said the talent level at Northwest "is no joke." Lance Ray, who caught three of Mossakowski's TD passes last week, is a transfer from Arkansas.
Northwest Mississippi Sports Information Director Kevin Maloney said the school in Senatobia, Miss. (population of some 7,000) has won two juco football national titles and eight state championships in its history.
To this point, Mossakowski said he has not heard much from major-college recruiters. "Hopefully, if I keep playing well and (as) my tape gets around, that will come," he said.
Mossakowski said he still keeps in touch with his former UK roommate, wide receiver Brian Adams.
"I try to Facebook some of the other guys when I can," he said. "I want Kentucky to do well. Those guys are my friends. I still have respect for that coaching staff. I wish them nothing but the best."