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Former Tiger leaves field for track

JACKSON — When his heart was no longer in it, Robert Wells said he knew it was time to give up football.

The former Jefferson County High School standout running back injured his left ankle the first day of fall camp for the Copiah-Lincoln Community College football team. After getting a prognosis of being out four to five weeks, Wells said he had to make a tough decision.

“My season went downhill, and I had to come to my senses,” Wells said. “I had lost my love for the game and felt like my season was over with. By me being hurt, I wasn’t playing, and I wasn’t able to help my team.”

With his football career over, Wells has now turned his attention back to his first love — track and field. Wells started his athletic career in high school as a track athlete before Tigers head coach James Herrington recruited him to play football.

Over the Christmas break, Wells decided to transfer from Co-Lin to Hinds Community College in order to resume his track career. Wells, a sophomore, had an offer from Alcorn State to both play football and run track, but due to grades, he was forced to go to junior college.

“Co-Lin doesn’t have a track team, so I had to choose (football or track),” Wells said. “My main thing at first was going somewhere that I could do both.”

With his football career over, Wells said he’s glad he’ll be going back to the sport that originally made him stand out as an athlete.

“I really missed it,” Wells said of track and field. “Every time I had a chance, I’d go to the high school and see my old teammates, and we’d go work out and run the hills and stuff like that.”

Wells used those workouts, plus a summer track program in Natchez by Eddie Ray Jackson, to stay active in the sport, even though he was still a football player at the time. Now that he’s at Hinds ready to run track, Wells said he’s ready to compete again.

“I’m adjusting quickly, because I’m finally getting to do something that I want to do,” Wells said.

Wells will compete in the 60-meter, 100-meter and 200-meter dashes, as well as the 4X100-meter relay. As a sprinter, Wells said football did have some benefits in aiding his track career.

“Getting to work out, that made my legs stronger, which helps my top-end speed,” Wells said.

Practice began Monday for Wells, and the Hinds track team is gearing up for the Crimson Tide Indoor Classic Saturday in Birmingham, Ala. His goals for this season are to keep a level head and help his team out whenever possible, and to make it to the indoor and outdoor national championship. Wells also said he wants to run a 10.2 in the 100-meter dash, and a 20.8 in the 200-meter dash.

Even though he’s left football behind, Wells said he still talks regularly to his former head coach at Jefferson County, James Herrington.

“He and I always talk, and he always told me, do whatever makes you happy,” Wells said. “Don’t listen to what anyone else says, because they’re not the ones that have to deal with that choice.”

Wells is the son of Brenda Ellis and Robert Wells Sr.