CoachSpeak: What is Russell's Best Position?

Notre Dame picked up a big commitment last week when four-star running back Keivarae Russell selected the Irish. So, what does he bring? And where does he fit best in Notre Dame's offense? Mariner High (Everett, Wash.) coach John Ondriezek spoke to about it.

When Mariner High's (Everett, Wash.) Keivarae Russell committed to Notre Dame, he did so without knowledge of where he would play.

While the odds-on favorite is at running back – rates him with four stars and ranks him 24th at the position – he has said in the past he wouldn't mind playing slot receiver, running back, returning kicks or even playing in the secondary.

However, Mariner coach John Ondriezek views Russell's best position as a multi-purpose running back because of Notre Dame's offensive system.

"With the Notre Dame scheme -- and I was able to see a few of their games -- the way they use their running backs coming out of the backfield, catching passes," he said, "sometimes they want a small back and can move him around into the slot, throwing screens to him. The young quarterback they have that comes in and runs some option, I think he could play at running back.

"And at Notre Dame, he can move out to the slot and play."

The 6-foot, 180-pound Russell ran for 1,293 yards as a senior despite missing three games because of an injury. He can catch the ball out of the backfield and has to finish off plays.

"People basically recruited him as an athlete on the offensive side of the ball," Ondriezek said. "He's 6-foot, so he has some height. He's going to get a little bit bigger, so he can still go out to receiver and have some height. If he was 5-7, 5-8, they may think he may not have the height to go out there, but he's blessed with height and speed. It's a great combination."

What sold Russell on Notre Dame wasn't solely football, which is something Ondriezek noticed during the October official visit.

"I think they're getting an outstanding athlete, but they're also getting a person of character, they're getting a person who will be a Notre Dame student," Ondriezek said. "When Keivarae was on his recruiting trip to Notre Dame, and he met with admissions, and they described the type of student and their expectation for a student at Notre Dame, my wife and I were both there, and we said, ‘You just described Keivarae.'

"He's a person of values, integrity, intangibles, ambitions, and he has a bright future ahead of him and he'll do well at Notre Dame."

In fact, Russell thought so much of Notre Dame he selected the Irish despite intense pressure to stay home and play for Washington.

When asked if it was hard for Russell to go against the home team, Ondriezek was quick to reply.

"Absolutely," he said. "You grow up in an area and you get to watch the University of Washington play week in and week out, and you have a lot of friend and family members that attended (the school), it was a difficult decision for Keivarae. The University of Washington is a great institution and they recruited him with class."

However, Russell elected to join Notre Dame's class in 2012 because of the mix of academics and athletics. Top Stories