What was supposed to be a Division I matchup of Columbus East’s two Mr. Football award winners may well include only one of those players.
Markell Jones, the 2014 Mr. Football, kicked off his sophomore season in much the same way he ended his freshman year for Purdue. He carried 24 times for 145 yards and a touchdown in a 45-24 win against Eastern Kentucky.
On the other side of the coin, 2011 Mr. Football Gunner Kiel did not play in Cincinnati’s 28-7 season-opening win Thursday night against Tennessee-Martin. The senior, who has been the Bearcats’ starter the past two years, is listed as their No. 3 quarterback.
The Boilermakers are set to host the Bearcats at noon Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium.
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Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville named sophomore Hayden Moore as his starter two weeks ago. Redshirt-freshman Ross Trail is the backup.
Speaking after a preseason practice Aug. 24, Jones said he received a text from Kiel the previous day after Kiel had found out he wouldn’t be the starter.
“Obviously, he’s disappointed, but he’s a fighter,” Jones said. “We all from Columbus, we just fight. So he’s not settling for being No. 2 right now. I’m sure he has in his mindset that he’s going to go out and get that No. 1 spot. He has a fire in his gut. He’s ready to go.”
East coach Bob Gaddis is taking his entire varsity team (about 40 players) who won’t be playing in the Olympians’ JV game Saturday to West Lafayette.
Gaddis is hoping to see both of his former players in action.
“It will be pretty neat to have Gunner playing for Cincinnati and Markell playing for Purdue,” Gaddis said. “A lot of our guys have never been to a big-time football game live. Our guys are really looking forward to going. We’ve never done this before, so I thought, what better time than when you have the two Mr. Footballs from your program playing against each other.
Gaddis said his players will get to tour Purdue’s facilities and basically do the Boilermakers’ recruiting tour. They’ll get to go on the field before the game.
Jones said he’s excited to see his former teammates and other fans from Columbus make the trip Saturday.
“That will be pretty neat to have all your local fans and your support group back home coming up,” Jones said.
What: Purdue vs. Cincinnati football
When: noon Saturday
Where: Purdue’s Ross-Ade Stadium
TV: Big Ten Network