What 6 foot, 4 inch, 200 pound Derrick Russell saw was himself catching some of those balls that Taylor threw for big gains. "I was thinking that I wanted some of those," Derrick said. "At Central, we don't throw the ball much, so when you see a guy go off like that, as a receiver, you want to be on the other end."
Russell visited the spring game with teammates Adrian McCintyre and D.J. Jones, Jones already having a Nebraska offer. Derrick said that where Jones is now is where he wants to be. "No matter what school it is, you want to be a player everyone wants," he said. "To get a chance to go to the next level, play football and go to school, there's nothing else you could ask for."
Well, there is, at least for Russell, because while he's gotten interest from a lot of schools, Kansas State in particular, in the back of his mind, he knows where he'd like to go. "Nebraska is probably the place I want to be," Derrick said. "My mom wants me to stay close to home and it's a great program, plus now they are throwing the ball a lot."
Just three years ago, Russell looked at Nebraska, but not as a school he'd ideally like to be. You see, he's a wideout, tall, lanky and fast, so when someone mentioned Nebraska to him in the context of being a receiver, his usual reply was simple. "Oh no, that's not happening," Russell said. "Three years ago, I wouldn't have looked at Nebraska twice, because they didn't use their wide receivers for much other than blocking."
"I wanted to go somewhere, where they throw."
Well, he got his wish, Nebraska now amongst those toting this thing called the "modern" offense. And, after seeing Zac Taylor go crazy, hitting almost 75 % of his passes in a single half, what was once inconceivable now becomes the goal. "I want that offer," Derrick said of getting a written offer from Nebraska. "And, I know what I have to do to get it."
"The summer camps are coming up and the coaches say that's where I have my chance to show what I can do, so I plan to bring my best."
The camp is of course, the summer camps, Nebraska holding usually three different 3-day sessions in June. David Harvey got his offer based on what he did at their camp last year and Russell says he wants to do the same thing. And, he's confident.
"Heck, I have only ran the forty like once in my life and I ran a 4.5 and with bad shoes," he said. "I can jump about 36 inches and I am getting stronger all the time. I know what I have to do, so I am just making sure that when the camp rolls around, there's not going to be a question of what I bring to the table."
Russell isn't just eager at the thought of getting an offer from a big-time school. You see, he looks at Nebraska, sees what they have there and coming in, his eyes open up a little and he's seeing opportunities to play. "There's a lot of room there for someone that can make plays," Derrick said. "Room for someone like me."
You'd have to think that if Nebraska does indeed offer following his summer camp audition, that he's almost a lock to be Husker bound. While nothing is so cut and dry, especially in recruiting, where minds change with the wind, Derrick wasn't cautious in agreeing. "Yeah, that's probably where I'd go," he said. "You see what they do now and you want to be part of that. You see the fans and the kind of cheering they do and support they have, you want to be part of that to."
"I'm kind of showy, so when you see the fans go crazy like they do for them, that's pretty cool and it'd be crazy knowing that all those fans are cheering for you."
Derrick did say that if the offer came, it'd be hard not to commit on the spot. He also said that he didn't know if he would even try to stop himself, if that written offer was in front of him. That's a lot of hypothetical situations, but another is the chance to play with a current teammate, one that could be a future teammate as well. "I think it would be pretty cool to go to the same school," Derrick said of he and D.J. Jones committing to the same place. "We have talked about how it would be good to go to the same place and if that was Nebraska, all the better."
"We could keep that Omaha Central chain going."
It's impossible to say whether or not D.J. and Derrick will follow in the footsteps of Cortney Grixby, Brandon Teamer and David Horne, just to name a few, but it's certainly on his mind. The idea of playing in front of 80,000, catching a few balls from whoever the QB is and galloping into the end zone for a score.
That's real, that's the goal and if it's at Nebraska, that possibly a perfect ending. "It doesn't matter where I go, so long as I go to a place I like and I fit in," Derrick said. "But, this is Nebraska and as a receiver, you have to like what they are doing right now."
"I know I do and I see some quarterback throw for 357 yards, yeah, you bet I want to be part of that. I want some of those yards for myself."