But her son always had a mind of his own. That's why he took sign language instead of a traditional foreign language his final two years of high school.
"I don't know why he took sign language. He said he would give it a try and if he didn't like it, he could always take Spanish. It was different, and he ended up loving it. He's unique like that," Tanya Russell said.
Perhaps that's why he is considering a law enforcement major. He says criminology has always fascinated him and he liked to watch TV shows like "Cops, Law & Order, and CSI" for as long as he can remember.
"Everything like that I could watch, I did. I don't know if I want to be a cop, detective or something different. But I really am looking into it," he said. "Mysteries intrigue me. I want to see what I want to do in the future outside of football. I know I am not going to play football forever. I want to think about what else I can do that excites me."
His mother is not surprised that he's considering a possible career in that field.
"He never went out to a lot of parties. He was not into the whole hanging out scene. Friends used to tell me to make him go out more," Tanya Russell said. "The only thing that worries me about criminology is that you see a lot of bad things that are out there in the world. I am a little concerned about whether I want him to know all those bad things. But he has to make up his own mind about what to do."
It won't be singing. He says his sister, mother and father can all sing well. "But I can't sing a note. I get kind of jealous of them sometimes," Russell said.