By Gisselle Romo-Gonzalez ([email protected])

(GRAYSON, Kentucky) – Former SoCal Coyotes quarterback Jacob ‘Jake’ Russell, who broke seven franchise records and led America’s #1 Developmental Pro Football Program™ to an undefeated season in 2016, has been named Head Coach at Kentucky Christian University.

Jacob Russell warms up on August 28, 2016 before leading the SoCal Coyotes to a 56-0 win over the California  Raiders. Russell completed 26 of 30 to nine different receivers for 309 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

“My next chapter as Head Coach at Kentucky Christian University is an amazing opportunity to advance the Gospel through the game of football – the exact same way the SoCal Coyotes do with their football ministry,” said Russell, a former two-time college All-American and National Player of the Year.

“I’m forever grateful to my Coyote family – they’ve always been there to encourage and advise me through each chapter of my life,” Russell said. “I’m so thankful to Coach Miller for helping prepare me for this opportunity.

“The Coyotes have had a huge impact on my life.”

Socal Coyotes: Trial by Fire  

The 6-3, 230-pound Russell signed with the Coyotes as a rocket-armed rookie in 2016, and the pro prospect immediately picked up right where he’d left off in his eye-popping collegiate career.

“Jacob asked for the playbook before he got here, and all the game film we could send,” recalled Coach Miller. “The very first day of two-a-days, we’re in the classroom before taking the field. Jacob walks to the whiteboard and draws up every single play, goes through every single check down, and every single option, and then sat down. Guys were like ‘O.K., this guy is the real deal.'”

The 2016 rookie class is still regarded as the best in franchise history. The Coyotes finished as the only California team ranked in the National Top 20, thanks largely to Russell’s dazzling 67.9 completion percentage; his 35-2 TD-INT ratio; and whopping 134.1 NFL quarterback rating – all still SoCal club records.

Behind a ferocious defense and with Russell dropping dimes in the Coyotes’ fire-breathing Run ‘n’ Shoot offense, SoCal outscored opponents 406-43.

Directing the Coyotes’ lethal Run ‘n’ Shoot attack, Russell was unstoppable – SoCal averaged nearly 500 yards of offense a game

The very last throw of Russell’s decorated football career was a walk-off 31-yard touchdown to Coyote legend Rashad ‘The Franchise’ Roberts – Russell’s fourth of the day – to beat the rival Inglewood Blackhawks, 26-21.

After Russell’s remarkable trial by fire in the desert, the call he’d prayed to receive from the National Football League never came.

But another call was stirring deep in his soul.

New KCU Head Coach Jacob Russell leads a middle school SoCal Coyote ‘Faith, Family, Football’ Camp in 2016

A Football Ministry

After arriving in the Coachella Valley, Russell’s early calling to a ‘football ministry’ was swiftly evident.

When he wasn’t practicing, he volunteered to speak at countless Coyote camps, clinics and churches, sharing his bedrock faith and trust in God every chance he could.

“Jake ‘got it’ right away,” Coach Miller recalled. “He figured out very quickly our purpose isn’t football. Our goal is to create a culture, create a movement, and impact people for Christ. One of the greatest ministries on earth starts with all those men in the locker room, and extends to the thousands, if not millions, who love this game.

As a Coyote, Russell says he felt the call of God on his life

“Jake has persevered, he’s overcome, he’s been obedient to God’s calling on his life,” Coach Miller said. “He understands why he’s on this earth, and what his real purpose is in life. We are filled with joy watching him grow in the Lord as a father, as a husband, as a man.”

College Playing Career

Russell, a multi-sport athlete at Anderson County High School, was an All-State quarterback and the 5A Player of the Year (2009) his senior year. Upon graduation, he accepted a full scholarship to Eastern Kentucky University where, as a true freshman, won every game he started and was named the 2010 Offensive Newcomer of the Year. He then continued his collegiate career at the University of Kentucky as a 3-year member of the football and baseball teams.

A former walk-on at the University of Kentucky, Russell became one of the most prolific NAIA passers in history

With eligibility remaining, Russell entered Campbellsville University. In 21 games, Russell led the Tigers to back-to-back Mid-South Conference championships, throwing for 6,931 yards, 66 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions, and rushing for an additional 500 yards.

Twice Russell was named an NAIA All-American, as well as the MSC and NAIA National Player of the Year.

Overseas Missions 

Immediately following his Coyotes playing career, Russell began leading missionary contingents to the Dominican Republic with SCORE International, a mission organization that serves countries around the world.

Russell led overseas mission trips with SCORE International

In addition to street evangelism, the groups worked with boys and girls orphanages and schools, fed families and villages in need, and hosted sports camps.

Russell was part of a Fellowship of Christian Athletes team based out of Kentucky’s Union College, where he had just been hired as an assistant football coach. The group represented student-athletes from a dozen different sports teams from states across the country, and a variety of upbringings and backgrounds.

College Coaching Career

Russell visiting a Dominican Republic orphanage

After a short stint as Union’s quarterback coach, Russell was swiftly promoted to offensive coordinator. A number of his players earned first-team Mid-South All-Conference, as Union posted its second-best season offensively (total yards, total points) in program history.

Russell moved on to Webber International University, where he experienced similar success. He returned last year to Union College as the offensive coordinator, recruiting coordinator, and quarterback coach. It was there Russell caught the attention of Kentucky Christian University, and the committee tasked by KCU President Terry Allcorn to fill their head coaching position.

Kentucky Christian Announcement

On July 11, KCU officially publicized Russell as their new head coach. Russell was joined at the announcement by his wife Dannika, and their three-month-old daughter, Naomi Ann.

“I believe college football is one of the greatest ministries that exists,” said Coach Russell. He vowed to deliver “an unbelievable staff of strong, Christian leaders of men, who have that same vision and passion” for using the game of football to advance God’s Kingdom.

“My experiences at an NAIA Christian University and The SoCal Coyotes continue to have a profound influence on my faith, and life,” added Russell. “Here at Kentucky Christian, we will have that same impact on countless people through the ministry of football. We will compete to take this football program to new heights, but more importantly compete for the transformation of the heart and mind of each young man within this program.”

All that God Desires 

Coach Miller sees Russell and KCU now as an extension of the Coyote ministry. Referencing Acts 4:33, he compared football to ‘the early church,’ where multitudes of men and women discovered the grace of God.

“God planted seeds of ministry in Jacob while he was still a Coyote, right here in the Coachella Valley,” Coach Miller said. “Now those seeds have multiplied exponentially. Soon, it will be a time of harvest. We’ve had 800 other players come through our program, and God is using them all over the world for His glory.

“When God’s power is applied in any measure to any purpose, all that God desires to happen will be accomplished.”


The six-time champion SoCal Coyotes are the 2021 California Non-Profit of the Year, and the national standard of American developmental football. The Coyotes’ organization provides elite athletes a professional environment that refines and showcases their skills through trademarked processes similar to the NBA’s D-league and MLB’s minor-league systems.

Additionally, the Coyotes’ 501c3 and award-winning ‘Above The Line™’ leadership programs impact the social, mental and physical growth of more than 50,000 youth annually through remedial curriculum, training camps, clinics and symposia. NFL executives have named the SoCal Coyotes organization America’s #1 Developmental Football Program™ for its national, scalable brands, community outreach programs, 10-year operational track record, verifiable data, youth curriculum, sales, public-private sector alliances, and measured results.

-Public Relations Director Gisselle Romo-Gonzalez ([email protected]) is a graduate of California State University San Bernardino and a frequent contributor to TheSoCalCoyotes.com. Discover more at Facebook.com/TheSoCalCoyotes
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