"I've been doing well on my grades," Russell said. "… My GPA is going to shoot up. I'm trying to get these test scores and I want to get out of here. I'm ready to get to UNC and do my thing – I'm ready to rock."
Russell spent the majority of his final game in a Hargrave Military Academy uniform on the sideline with a minor injury. He was injured during the contest – Hargrave's season-ending rivalry game against Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy. He said afterwards that he was fine and was even trying to get back into the action but his coaches didn't want to risk further injury.
"I've got to listen to what Coach says," Russell said.
Last fall as a senior at Raeford (N.C.) Hoke County, Russell attended most of UNC's home games. However, his schedule at Hargrave has prevented him from attending any games thus far this season. He is, though, attempting to make UNC's season finale against Duke on Thanksgiving weekend.
"I've got to find a way to get up there," Russell said. "I've been trying to go whenever I can. I'd just like to see them play."
Russell's schedule at Hargrave has been so hectic that he hasn't even been able to watch most of UNC's games on television.
"I've been here working," Russell said. "When I don't get to catch the games, I can follow them on my phone.
"I thought we were going to get Clemson, that's who I wanted to beat because of my friend [and Clemson commit Kevin] Dodd, we were watching the game that day, but they got us."
While he hasn't been able to visit Chapel Hill, the UNC coaching staff has made several visits to Hargrave to see Russell. The staff also calls him regularly.
"I talk to Coach [Sam] Pittman the most," Russell said. "He's a great coach, [and] really funny and comical."
Meanwhile, Russell has adjusted to the military lifestyle at Hargrave.
"Life is totally different – it's a big change," Russell said. "You've got to wake up in the morning, be disciplined, listen to other people, and stuff like that. It's difficult, it's tough, and it's challenging, but if I want to get where I want to go, I've got to go through it. I'm making it through."
In spite of its difficulties, Russell says he has benefited from that lifestyle.
"As far as academics, I've changed a lot – I've got new study habits and I'm doing better in my work," Russell said. "Out on the field, everybody comes here and it's all about competition because everyone wants to start; but I like the competition and the challenge, it makes me want to play better."