Russell verbally committed to UNC in early July. However, the 5-foot-11, 221-pound linebacker didn't qualify academically out of Raeford (N.C.) Hoke County High School and thus will have to spend at least a semester at Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy.
"I have to work on my SAT and ACT," Russell said. "All my grades are straight. I just have to pass the test."
About three or four weeks ago, Troy Davis, Hargrave's head football coach, visited Russell and discussed the situation with him. Russell will arrive at Hargrave on Aug. 6.
"I'm just going to go there and make the best of what I've got to do with my situation," Russell said. "I'm going to work hard and knock it out as fast as I can."
Russell has started at both running back and linebacker throughout his high school career – and rarely left the field. At Hargrave, he'll focus on one position.
"I'll find out how I'm going to be used once I get there," Russell said. "Whatever [Davis] wants me to do, that's what I'm going to be doing.
"I'd prefer to play linebacker, so that when I get [to UNC], I'll already have a look of what's going on. I'll be playing with older people anyway, so it will get me better prepared."
Until he enrolls or signs a Letter-of-Intent, outside schools are permitted to recruit Russell.
"If schools want to recruit me, I'll listen to them talk, but I'm still Carolina all the way," Russell said.
Russell speaks to Sam Pittman, his primary UNC recruiter, every other day.
"He talks to me about things that are going on at school, how my grades are coming, and how he can't wait to get me up there," Russell said.