Having little sense of the difference between, say, the “Pistol” offense of the Nevada Wolf Pack and the Pro Set of Fresno State, Mammoth photographer Brandon Russell has found himself in a most improbable spot.
That would be the College Football Hall of Fame.
“Crazy, huh?” said the 28-year-old Russell, a University of Nevada-Reno graduate and a noted action sports photographer.
Russell said he really doesn’t know the intricacies of the sport he photographs so well, but last season, Nevada hit gold, er, silver, and Russell was there to capture it.
Running out of Nevada coach Chris Ault’s innovative and much-copied “Pistol” set, Wolf Pack quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running backs Vai Taua and Luke Lippincott each rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season.
It was the first time any team in NCAA history had three thousand-yard rushers in a single season. They also finished 1-2-3 nationally in yards per carry – an astonishing achievement.
Russell teamed up with Sacramento artist A.W. Prince to create a very limited edition collage poster commemorating one of college football’s most amazing feats.
“It’s really exciting,” said Russell, whose photographs of Kaepernick, Taua and Lippincott highlight the poster.
“I had a vision of how I wanted it to look, and Brandon just picked up where I was going with it,” Prince said in a telephone interview. He said he used fabric from the players’ real jerseys on Russell’s images, making the artwork distinctive. The players signed each poster, too.
Eight of the posters were auctioned last weekend in a University of Nevada-Reno fund-raising event, each of them going for $7,500. Another was requested by the College Football Hall of Fame, which will feature the art when it moves from its current location, South Bend, Ind., to Atlanta next year.
Russell has a sophisticated eye, a great sense of action and some high-powered digital camera equipment. Currently he works as an assistant to former Mammoth Mountain Ski Area owner Dave McCoy in McCoy’s photo lab in Bishop.
Russell has photographed Wolf Pack sports for several years, and many of his ski and snowboard photographs have been published.