BENTON — Benton Class of 2024 four-star running back Braylen Russell was an interested observer at the Monster Camp on Sunday.
Russell, 6-2, 230, is one of the top recruits in both Arkansas and the nation. Russell will make his decision on Friday, July 14, at 6:30 p.m. at his high school. Russell will turn his birthday into an even happier day for fans at the school he chooses.
On Sunday, Russell was at the Monster Camp observing though he didn’t participate. He had several teammates and friends who were participating. Russell narrowed his list of several offers to five on April 14. The lucky five are Arkansas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Baylor. He talked about how the recruiting process was going for him as it’s starting to wind down to his commitment date.
“It’s going good,” Russell said. “Stressful, but it’s a good stress to have.”
Russell was an early commitment to Arkansas, but then opted to reopen his recruiting to explore all his options. He explained what’s going into this decision which will be his final one.
“Finding a home,” Russell said. “Finding a family feel.”
Jimmy Smith coaches the running backs at Arkansas and has been Russell’s lead recruiter. Russell talked about Smith.
“I like Coach Jimmy,” Russell said. “He’s funny. Coach Pitt (Sam Pittman) is a good dude. I mean a really good coach.”
Russell said that Dan Enos is also someone he likes though he’s new to Arkansas. Enos stopped by Benton High School his first day on the job though at Arkansas to show Russell he was a very high priority. Russell has also been on visits to Arkansas since Enos was hired.
“He talked to me about how I can be a big part of the offense and how he would use me,” Russell said.
Arkansas stands to likely lose starting running back Raheim “Rocket” Sanders to the NFL following the 2023 season. Russell was asked if that is something that might help Arkansas in his recruiting? He emphasized that even if that happened the Hogs would still have AJ Green, Rashod Dubinion and Dominique Johnson.
Russell transferred to Benton from Lakeside prior to last season. He talked about how he feels the season went.
“I didn’t like it,” Russell said. “I mean I was hurt all season. I have a broken foot in every game I played in. This season, I’m looking forward to just having a breakout season my senior season. I was in a boot. Took it off to play the game then put it back on afterward.”
Despite playing with an injury Russell still put up a season many would consider a successful one.
“It was pretty good, but not my ….. I don’t know I want a 3,000-yard season next year,” Russell said. “So I’m gonna go get it.”
Russell admitted he’s getting lot of people urging him to go to their favorite school. Arkansas and Tennessee both have people urging him to choose their school.
“Sometimes,” Russell said laughing. “My dad and my mom told me it was my decision. But yeah outside people always say, ‘Go to Arkansas or go to Tennessee.’ I walked in today and someone said I’m looking forward to you wearing that Tennessee orange so yeah they do try to persuade me. My parents will be behind me no matter what I do and that is the most important thing.”
Arkansas and most schools alternate running backs in this day and age. No longer does a tailback get 30 to 40 carries in a normal game and that is fine with Russell.
“I wouldn’t want to get 40 touches in the SEC, Big 12, Pac-12 or anything,” Russell said.
The good part Russell feels with the timing of his decision is it will allow him to have a senior season free of distractions from recruiters, reporters and the things that come with being a highly-sought recruit still deciding on a college.
“Yes sir that’s why I’m doing it July 14,” Russell said. “I want to enjoy my senior season without any of that.”
Russell at the Arkansas spring scrimmage with Darren McFadden. Click here for tweet.
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