No. 2 Baylor announced Monday that quarterback Seth Russell will have neck surgery and miss the rest of the season for the undefeated Bears.
Russell needs surgery to repair damage to his cervical vertebra. That was the recommendation after he saw a specialist Monday, two days after the junior quarterback fractured a bone in his neck late in a 45-27 victory over Iowa State. The typical recovery time is six months.
“Seth exemplifies the spirit and will of our football team, and through this our team will keep that spirit alive and well for him,” coach Art Briles said in a statement released by the school.
Russell is the top-rated passer in the Bowl Subdivision, completing 119 of 200 passes for 2,104 yards with 29 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also ran for six scores in his first season starting for the NCAA’s top offense (686 total yards, 61 points a game).
Freshman Jarrett Stidham will take over as the starter. He has played in every game so far, and has some extra time to prepare for his first start since the Bears (7-0) next play Nov. 5 at Kansas State.
Stidham has completed 24 of 28 passes for 331 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions. Sophomore Chris Johnson has moved from receiver back to quarterback as Stidham’s backup.
Russell, a devout Christian, posted a message on his Twitter and Instagram accounts Sunday that read, “His plan isn’t always clear..but trusting in His plan for me. Thanks for all the prayers Baylor.” There were no updates on his Twitter account Monday after Baylor announced the surgery.
Immediately after Baylor won its FBS-best 20th consecutive home game, Russell was described as having a strained neck. X-rays and a CT scan later Saturday revealed the fractured bone.
Russell’s final play against Iowa State was a 4-yard run on third-and-5 with 5:36 left, though it was not immediately apparent he was hurt. There was helmet-to-helmet contact when he put his head down pushing forward, and was tackled in a pile with five Cyclones.
When the Bears called timeout and decided to kick a field goal rather than trying to convert a fourth-and-1, Briles said afterward they “didn’t feel like (Russell) was ready to go on that fourth down.”