KeiVarae Russell close on more visits

With his high school season now behind him, KeiVarae Russell (Seattle, Wash./Mariner) can turn his attention to his recruitment and said he’s close to setting up the rest of his visits.

Russell is one of the top backs in the West region and had a very good senior season. He battled through injuries to lead his team to the playoffs but it was bounced in the first round last week.

“I thought I might cry, but I held it together,” Russell said. “We had a good season and now it’s time to focus on getting ready for college. I know it’s going to be a totally different game for me, and I have a lot to learn.

“I’m looking forward to that, though. High school was so easy, college is going to be really tough, but I can’t wait to get out there and see how these coaches can maximize my ability. Everyone is going to be bigger, stronger and faster, so I’m ready to do some work.”

Russell took his first visit to Notre Dame and loved his time in South Bend.

“I can definitely see myself at Notre Dame, it’s a great school,” Russell said. “At first I was thinking the school might be too far but the coaches told me that no matter where I go, unless it’s Washington, I’m going to have to get on a plane to go home. It’s not like I can just get in a car and drive home from Cal or USC or wherever and that made total sense to me.

“I loved the guys on the team. They’re all academically minded as well football players, so I can relate to them. They have a great coaching staff, and I like how they use the running back. They said they would use me the same way they use Cierre Wood and that’s a great fit for me. The tradition is great, every game is televised and even though the school is farther away, they’re actually recruiting me harder than anyone else and that means a lot, too.”

Cal, USC, Oregon and Washington are the other schools Russell is seriously looking at.

“I think I’m going to visit Cal for their big weekend (Dec. 9),” Russell said. “I need to lock in the next time I talk with Tosh Lupoi or Ron Gould but that probably works best. My coach was playing phone tag with USC today but I’m going to visit there in December too since they still can’t go to a Bowl game.

“I told UW they would get my last visit. At first I was thinking I would just visit there unofficially since it’s only 40 minutes from home but they want me to officially visit and I understand that. With Oregon, I like them a lot and love the offense. I know Byron Marshall just committed but we would actually complement each other really well.

“When we were at Cal’s Junior Day, we actually talked about playing together as a thunder and lightning combination because were totally different backs. I just need to get more familiar with the coaches at Oregon and see how serious they really are about me. They just offered me a month ago and all these other schools offered in the summer or even a year ago, so I have a lot better relationship with them right now.”

At this point, Russell said everyone is even and he can’t name any leaders until he takes all his visits.

“I’ve only been to Notre Dame so far, so I don’t have anything to compare them with,” Russell said. “I loved it there but I could love all my visits. I just need to take the trips and then weigh the pros and cons and see where I feel the most comfortable.

“These are all great schools for sure. I grew up loving USC football. With Cal, I loved watching Desean Jackson and Jahvid Best. Notre Dame has great tradition and Oregon is on top right now. Washington is the local school and has been on me for a while so I know I can’t go wrong with any of them.”