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The Long Winding Road That Led Ross Trail To The Bearcats

Ross Trail has had himself an interesting and action packed year. It really starts with a decision, the decision to transfer to Olive Branch High Schoo from his native Wynnel. Olive Branch, a perennial Memphis area powerhouse, and one of the best programs in the state of Mississippi.

The problem for Trail wound up being that he was not considered a full time resident of Mississippi, at least according to their officials. He wound up being suspended by the Mississippi equivalent of the OHSAA or the KHSAA. The problem, in a nutshell was this.

Trail had originally been declared ineligible because of concerns about his residency. The family has purchased a home in Olive Branch but still maintains a residence in Wynne, Ark., where the player transferred from in January.

Trail and his father, former Memphis Quarterback Rusty, lived in Olive Branch while his mother and sister continued to live in Wynne, roughly an hour and a half from Olive Branch. That was the root of the issue. Olive Branch administrators made the decision to let Trail keep playing against the wishes of the MHSAA and amid growing controversy. Trail played through the year for the Conquistadores completing 52 percent of his passes for 1,626 yards with 15 touchdowns, 5 interceptions (2 percent interception rate), 6.8 yards per attempt and a college rating of 126.7.*

* I am normally wary of high school stats because of the obvious incentives for everyone involved to goose the numbers for exposure/recruiting purposes so take this with a grain of salt. But those numbers are from his MaxPreps page and they are generally good about this stuff. Generally.

In the middle of all that chaos and drama Trail found time to commit to Louisville in September. In any other year Trail would never have even gotten to the Cardinals, he probably would have been an Arkansas Razorback. However  the class of 2015 in Arkansas happens to have two of the top 10 pro style quarterbacks in the country, and Ty Storey was the Razorbacks choice. Regardless of all that Trail was solidly Cardinal throughout his lone chaos filled season at Olive Branch. One that saw his eligibility issues devolve into a protracted courtroom battle.

In early January Charlie Strong left the green pastures of Louisville for the cartoonish bags of money at Texas. That threw the Cardinals recruiting class into upheaval for a while, more for the 2014 class but it affected everyone. When the Cardinals brought back Bobby Petrino from exile at Western Kentucky, Trail was initially effusive in his praise, or at least his dad was.

**The father of Ross Trail, 4-star 2015, Olive Branch, Miss., said his son is still committed, and he was pleased by the reports that Petrino will be hired. Rusty Trail and his son moved from Wynn, Ark., last year, and before then, Rusty Trail said he’d had Arkansas season football tickets and watched the success Petrino had there. Rusty said Petrino has demonstrated success coaching quarterbacks, like Tyler Wilson and Brian Brohm, and thinks he deserves a second chance for his personal transgressions.

The rosy view didn't last long, but more on that later. In late January the school board for Desoto County Schools which includes Olive Branch High School made the decision to remove Scott Samsel from his position as the head coach of the Conquistadors football team. He was replaced with his own assistant, former Auburn Tiger Jeremy Toungett.

About two weeks later Trail decided that he would like to explore his other options and decommitted from the Cardinals. At about the same time Trail made the decision to return to Wynne, presumably tiring of battling the Mississippi High School authorities on his eligibility.

I am not entirely sure when the Bearcats offered Trail, but he has been their top priority at quarterback for a very long time, most likely from the moment he put himself back on the market. The experts originally thought that Trail was a Bearcat lean for quite some time, until Ole Miss starting striking out on their top targets.Trail became a possible option and everyone in the recruiting community started expecting Ole Miss to offer and for Ross to jump at it.

It should be said that the consensus opinion about Trail and the Rebels wasn't unfounded. Oxford is a place where Trail has some family ties, and he would have been a Rebel if he was offered. But in the end Ole Miss went with Jason Pellerin. With that the door for the Bearcats to get their top QB target was thrown wide open once more and Tommy Tuberville got his man.

We will have continuing coverage of Trail and all the other Bearcat recruiting news here at Down The Drive