Watching things come together throughout the season and keeping in close contact with Auburn defensive line coach Rodney Garner, the 6-2, 285 Russell backed off his verbal to the Bulldogs in late November. Knowing all along Auburn was where he belonged, the nation's #10 defensive tackle says that in the end it was an easy choice for him to make.
"I have always been an Auburn fan since I was younger," Russell tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "My uncle played there and my whole family was real big on Auburn. I just felt like it was the right place for me. They have the best facilities and everything. It was just the best opportunity for me to go there.
"When I talked with my high school coaches Auburn was always the school they knew I wanted to go to," he adds. "There was just a lot of things and different situations that made me feel like it wasn't the best place for me to go. Now it just feels like the best place to be. It's just different now. They show a lot of excitement on the sidelines. It seems like it would be just like my high school team was. It just seems like a fun experience to be a part of that team."
Russell is an athletic defensive tackle that has the ability to make plays in the backfield
Something the Tigers had in their favor was Garner. A longtime assistant at Georgia that had already built a relationship with Russell over the years, his passion for Auburn is something Russell felt and he says the fact that Garner stuck with him was huge in the long run.
"He just made sure that even though I had committed to Georgia at the time they wanted to make sure I knew they were interested in me coming to Auburn," Russell notes. "It was good to know they still had interest until I could say I didn't want to go to another place anymore."
Making use of Auburn's depth on the defensive line to play as many as a dozen players each game, including three true freshman, Garner showed that he's willing to give guys a shot to make plays if they're willing to work. That spoke volumes to Russell.
"It's great," Russell says. "He told me that if I work hard then I would get playing time in the games because he rotates a lot of people. That's real good to know that as a freshman."
Committing to Georgia in early April, Russell found himself becoming more and more comfortable with Auburn's new staff throughout the fall. Making his decision to publicly decommit following a trip for the Iron Bowl, Russell notes that he had his mind made up long before making it official.
"It didn't really have that big of an impact on my decision because I already had the thought in my mind that I kind of wanted to go to Auburn even though I was committed to Georgia," Russell said. "A lot of people think I made my decision after that game, but I really didn't. It didn't really that big of an impact on me."
Saying that he's looking forward to meeting future teammates such as Tre Williams, Racean Thomas, Kalvaraz Bessent, Stephen Roberts and Sean White when he heads down for the Under Armour All-American Game this week, Russell says that he's just excited about his decision and what is coming in the future at Auburn. Planning on visiting the Plains on Jan. 17 and adding that he's done with his recruiting, Russell adds there's only one thing left to say.
"I'm done," Russell says. "I'm going to visit Auburn on the 17th and that's it. War Eagle."