In every recruiting season for Ohio State there seems to be a player or two from out of state that, all of the sudden, shows up on the radar screen that no one initially knows a whole lot about and he becomes a Buckeye. This year Anderson Russell seems to be a guy who fits that profile.
“I’m Anderson Russell and I’m a tailback and safety and cornerback out of Marist High School in Atlanta, Georgia,” he said. “I’ve been on the varsity at Marist since the 10th grade and we won the state championship last year and so we’re defending it this year. We start our first week of the playoffs this week.”
Marist is a relatively big school in Georgia, a 4A classification school with 1A being the smallest and 5A being the largest.
“We play in 4A so that’s next to the biggest classification but we play up (in classification) and we’re really a well-known school,” he said. “We won the state title in 4A last year.”
Russell is a running back in an offense that operates out of the wish bone formation at Marist and last season he rushed for over 600 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. His numbers are comparable this year on the ground and he scored 14 touchdowns as Marist finished with a 9-1 mark during the regular season.
On defense, Russell is a relative newcomer to that side of the ball. Ohio State, however, seems to be recruiting him to play one of the safety positions.
“I just started playing on defense this year really because we had a lot of guys that just went one way last year and it was the same way my sophomore year too,” said Russell who started some at running back as a sophomore near the end of that season when Marist lost in the state semifinals. “So I didn’t really start playing defense until this year but I like it a lot on defense and I’m just reading everything and reacting to it as quickly as possible. I like it a lot.
“I play a little strong safety but my main position on defense is corner. I play probably about half of the game on defense. I think that’s where I’m probably going to end up playing at on that side of the ball in college.”
Russell was first introduced to Ohio State by Marist assistant coach Doc Spurgeon, a close friend and confidant of Jim Tressel. Spurgeon was involved with Tressel and the Youngstown State football program from afar for many years.
“Doc Spurgeon is in touch with everybody up at Ohio State and he works down here with us at Marist,” Russell said. “He let the coaches up there know about me and they showed some interest in me and so I went up there to camp this summer. I guess it was about a month ago that they offered me a scholarship after seeing me play.”
To say the least, Russell was very impressed with Ohio State when he went to their camp this summer and he thought he performed well when he was here.
“I really liked it a lot. I liked the facilities and everything and I really liked the coaching staff too. I talk to coach Mel Tucker a lot and I really like Ohio State a lot,” Russell said. “I think I did pretty well at their camp, I played safety when we went on team time and seven-on-seven and I did pretty well with that.”
In the individual drills at Ohio State’s summer camp, Russell, 6-0, 200 pounds, ran a 4.44-second forty yard dash, 4.34 seconds in the shuttle run, he repped 185 pounds 19 times and he had a 34-inch vertical jump. He also went to the Nike camp at Georgia Tech and Georgia’s team camp this summer.
Despite the significant exposure from attending a few prominent camps and performing well when he was attending them this summer, the scholarship offers have been few and far between for Russell.
“I just have four offers right now from Ohio State, Duke, Furhman and Middle Tennessee and right now the school I’m leaning toward is Ohio State,” Russell said. “I thought at the beginning of the season that I would be getting some more interest from other schools but I didn’t so I just kept on playing and worrying about our season.”
Russell made an unofficial visit to his top school this past weekend when Ohio State hosted Penn State.
“I think I’m going to try to come back the second weekend of December for my official visit,” he said. “But I really liked it a lot and I was really excited about how the fans are really into the game and everything. Having 105,000 people at every home game would be really exciting.”
He also attended a couple of Georgia Tech home games when they hosted Duke and Miami and then he went to Duke when they played Maryland.
“(Ohio State’s atmosphere) is way better than any other school that I’ve ever been too,” he said. “It would be very exciting to be able to play in that atmosphere.”
With an offer on the table from Ohio State, why not commit to the Buckeyes and get it out of the way?
“I decided at the beginning of the season that no matter what happened I was going to wait until the end of the season to make a decision on where I was going to go to school,” Russell said. “So that’s what I’m doing right now.”
Quite honestly Russell admitted that he isn’t anticipating any other major offers to come his way at this point so his official decision might be unofficially made in his own mind at this time already.
“I really don’t think anything else is coming so I’m just going to wait and see how my official visits go and then decide off of that,” he said. “I just have to make sure that I would enjoy going to school there and every thing like that.”
Like with Spurgeon, the offensive line coach at Marist, Russell holds Tressel in a similar high regard.
“I met him back in the summer when I went up there for camp and I’ve talked to him on the phone once or twice, but I didn’t get to see him on Saturday, he wasn’t up in the room with all of the recruits,” Russell said. “I really like Coach Tressel a lot, he seems like a really nice guy and he’s real smart and he knows what he’s doing with football and everything.
“That was definitely something that turned me on to Ohio State just to know that you’re going to be playing for a coach like that who’s real smart with football and everything, and he cares about you as a person.”
It’s likely Russell will play on defense at Ohio State if that’s where he indeed decides to come.
“I’m pretty big and I have pretty good speed for a person this size,” he said. “I’ve ran a 4.41 on the track before so I can move around pretty well. Once I get to wherever I end up going to school and learn the coverages and everything, then I think I could play with anybody in the country. And I can lay a big hit on you definitely.”
Russell is chasing a dream right now and after Marist makes a run at another state championship, he can focus on selecting a college to attend.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play college football ever since I was little and I had been watching it on TV and everything,” he said. “And now that I see that it can end up like this, I’m just really excited about it knowing that it could finally happen.”
And his thoughts about ending up at a school like Ohio State? OSU is his only official visit set right now and it just might be his only visit.
“They’re definitely not just another school, they’re way up on top of my list by far,” Russell said. “I’m definitely, seriously considering them.”
Russell, who will run in the 4X100 and the open 100 and 200 races for the school’s track team, has a 3.0 GPA and scored an 1130 on the SAT.