Mississippi State linebacker commitment J.J. Russell is poised for a big season.

The Chargers of Grenada are expected to have one of the toughest defenses in the state of Mississippi. One of the leaders of that stingy unit is Mississippi State verbal linebacker J.J. Russell. Last weekend, Russell had the chance to kick off his senior campaign by playing the fall jamboree game in his future college stadium, Davis Wade Stadium, the home of Mississippi State.

While the Chargers came up a little short on the scoreboard, Russell felt good about getting out there with his team and hitting somebody else for a change. With the competitive juices flowing, the team performed well and learned a few lessons about what they needed to clean up before the games that really count begin.

"I think it went great," Russell said of the contest. "It was a great learning experience. We didn't win, but we got a lot of things done. We got a lot of people in and we got a lot of people reps to see what they can do. We mainly had some mental mistakes, which is good. You can fix those pretty easily."

The game against Noxubee County was a defensive tug of war for most of the day with the Tigers scoring on a pick six to earn an early lead. The Chargers held their own until late when a couple of breakdowns provided the two time state champions all the room they needed to pull away. Despite a handful of plays, the GHS defense kept Noxubee in check.

"I am really proud of the defense, man," Russell said. "I love the way we played out here today. We have shown today what we have been working on all summer. We had a few mental breakdowns, but that is nothing major."

Grenada put together a big season last year that ended in the second round of the playoffs. If the Chargers are to build on last season's results, some of the younger players will have to step in and provide a real contribution. Russell reports that he and his fellow seniors are ready to usher those newcomers into starting roles.

"They don't need to hang their heads on this game," Russell said of the jamboree. "We need to look at this as another practice. We just need to breakdown the film and see what we did wrong and fix it. We just need to have a good week of practice and get better next week."

Russell committed to Mississippi State within a matter of hours after a strong camp showing during the Bulldogs' June one day camps. Since making that decision, Russell has not looked back. As Bulldog fans would say, Russell is True Maroon.

"Things are going great with Mississippi State," Russell said. "There is going to be a great recruiting class coming in this next year. I am excited about the guys who are already committed and the other players that are going to join the class."

Much has been made about Russell's relationship with friend and teammate C.J. Avery, but most fans may not have a full appreciation of how much Russell thinks of fellow Bulldog verbal Trye Phillips. Russell reports that Phillips, a Grenada High alum, brings a lot to the Bulldog table.

"Tyre is a great player," Russell said. "That man is a beast. He's slimmed down some and he's still going strong and going to give you 100% every play. He's an animal to work with."

With his college destination set for Starkville, Russell reports he is at peace knowing the recruiting process is over. The talented senior can now focus his full energy on chasing memories at Grenada High School.

"It feels great to be able to just focus on the season," Russell said. "I feel at home here at Mississippi State and I am exited to be part of the Bulldog family."

Grenada opens the regular season on the road at Cleveland High School. The Chargers will play their first home game next weekend when Russell welcomes fellow Bulldog verbal Tyler Williams and his fellow Lafayette County Commodores to town for a key early season match-up for both teams.

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