NSD 2019: Christopher Russell anxious to make name for himself at A&M
Coming out of the Early Signing Period, Texas A&M’s 2019 recruiting class didn’t seem to have many spots to spare. As it turned out, there was just enough room for Tennessee linebacker Christopher Russell.
The inside linebacker prospect out of Dyersburg High School was one of the Aggies’ top priorities over the last several weeks and head coach Jimbo Fisher made it a point to make one of his final recruiting visits there to ice the deal. Fisher kept his message to Russell simple and clear, and he responded in kind by sending his Letter of Intent to A&M on National Signing Day.
“[Fisher] just said that we need linebackers,” Russell said. “He told me that they are trying to sign three more players in this class, and I was a guy he was trying to sign.”
Russell canceled what was to be his final official visit to Tennessee last weekend. At that point, it was clear that his decision came down to the Aggies or Arkansas. The opportunity not just to play for, but forge an identity on either team’s defense, was a crucial part in his decision to leave his home state to continue his football career.
“I want to make a name for myself,” he said. “At Tennessee, everyone looks at what happened when they won their last national championship in 1998. They talk about that all the time, but that hasn’t happened at Arkansas or A&M in a long time. When I am 40-years-old, I want people to remember the team I was on.”
As far as the Aggies were concerned, Russell was sold on Fisher’s pitch that he wasn’t leaving College Station anytime soon. Linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto and the culture he saw from the current players all played a major role in his decision as well.
“First, you have to look at the head coach,” he said. “He is planning on being there for the next ten years … you also have to look at the position coach you’re going to be with and I definitely vibe with Coach Peveto. When I think about the players that are there, they weren’t trying to be my host and just show me only good stuff about the program, they were just being themselves.”
Russell’s commitment likely wraps up Signing Day for the Aggies and puts a cap on GigEmGang19. While the most exciting thing about adding his name seems to be tremendous upside, Russell added that he takes pride in having the opportunity to move on from the small town he grew up in to an SEC football program.
The locals from his hometown may have hoped he would choose the Volunteers, but Russell said that he knows they’ll support him as an Aggie. In fact, Tennessee may have jumped the shark in assuming that the case would be anything other than that.
“Everyone in Dyersburg is a fan of the Vols,” he said. “Tennessee [coaches] told me that if I didn’t come there, Tennessee fans wouldn’t stand behind me. I’m not trying to sound cocky, but it’s been a long time since someone from Dyersburg has played for an SEC team.
“My city is behind me 100-percent. No matter where I go.”