From fur suits to lab coats in pharm school: Current UK Wildcat and former WKU Big Red now classmates

By Taylor Moak

Two first-year pharmacy students share a special “furr-ternity” of having been college mascots.

Ross Turner is in his fourth year as the UK Wildcat mascot, and Josh Pruitt served as Western Kentucky University’s mascot, Big Red, during his sophomore and junior years at WKU.

Turner said he decided to try out for the Wildcat his senior year of high school because he had always been a UK fan.

“I always dreamed of playing basketball at UK and being the mascot is the next second best thing,” Turner said.

UK Wildcat mascot tryouts are held this spring, and Turner said you can immediately tell if someone is going to be a good mascot or not.

Pruitt said he had a friend who encouraged him to try out to be Big Red, and he decided to just “go for it.”

He said that the smell of the Big Red costume had some people drop out of the tryouts pretty quickly.

Turner said the Wildcat suit is not bad in the winter, but it is terrible in the summer.

“Mascoting — a real man’s sport,” Turner said.

Turner and Pruitt said being a mascot made them ambassadors for their universities.

“We take a lot of pride in what we do,” Turner said.

Being a mascot allowed Turner and Pruitt to meet some neat people.

Turner said one of his favorite times was getting to catch Ashley Judd and spin her around at mid-court.

“Everyday I get in that suit is an experience,” Turner said. “People don’t realize there is a person in the suit.”

Pruitt said he was concerned the first time someone put a baby in Big Red’s mouth for a picture, which is a tradition at WKU.

He said he was worried about the baby falling into the belly of the Big Red costume.

Turner and Pruitt both came to pharmacy school after three years of undergraduate work.

Pruitt said he will get to wear Big Red’s gloves at WKU’s graduation this May.

They both said part of the fun of being a mascot is not having people know who you are.

“Mascots are the most famous, but unknown people there are,” Turner said.