the optimum has become 6-1, 205 with 4.40 speed. Bigger corners are an
answer to bigger receivers which came into demand as a counter to smaller
cover specialist with exceptional quickness.
That's what makes Nashville Hillsboro High School star Chris Russell such an
intriguing and, perhaps, highly underrated prospect. At 6-3, 188, Russell
exceeds the NFL's optimum for height and his 4.43 speed equals the ideal pro
output at the corner. A year of natural maturation, plus advanced weight
training and a protein-rich diet, would easily add 15 pounds to his 75-inch
frame making him a dream DB prospect, at 6-3, 203, 4.4, even by
If his transition skills prove as impressive as his speed and size, Russell
will become a quintessential cover corner for some college team. If his
transition talent is less scintillating, he'll become a first class free
safety, if not a top-rate receiver.
Wherever he resides on the gridiron, Russell is sure to bring outstanding
physical ability along with high character and laudable leadership skills.
"He's top notch," said Hillsboro head coach Ronald Aydelott, a 20-year
coaching veteran who has overseen Hillsboro's gridiron rise since 1994.
"He's a top-notch kid. He's got a great family. He¹s a class kid and he does
everything you ask him to do. He's a good student, a good basketball player
and he works hard in the weight room."
A starter at corner for Hillsboro since his freshman year, Russell is a
seasoned veteran with lofty aspirations. Last year he helped lead the Burros
to a 14-1 record and a Class 4A state final berth against Maryville.
Hillsboro lost that title tilt by a touchdown thus barely missing a perfect
As a junior, Russell recorded 32 tackles along with four interceptions, one
which he returned for a touchdown. He also broke up 25 passes and recovered
a fumble despite missing four games with a separated shoulder.
"He had a great year for us last year," said Aydelott. "He did miss four
games with a separated shoulder. He was injured in the second round of the
playoffs in the first series and came back in the third round with his
shoulder basically tied down to his side."
Russell made a full recovery and is pacing Hillsboro toward another playoff
berth this year. The Burros have won their first three games of the season
decidedly. In their season opener, the Burros beat Pearl-Cohn 42-6 as
Russell recorded six tackles and deflected two passes. In game two vs.
Hickman County, Hillsboro rolled to a 46-0 victory with Russell catching a
50-yard TD pass to go with three tackles at corner. Last week Hillsboro beat
Nashville Stratford 21-7 as Russell intercepted a pass, returned a fumble 35
yards and made four tackles. He also intercepted a pass in a preseason
jamboree against rival Hillwood.
Impressive as his stats are this season, they don¹t truly reflect Russell's
worth to his team. Because opponents avoid him at all cost, he essentially
takes away half the field on defense. Additionally, Hillsboro runs a wing-t
offense which presents few pass-catching opportunities. The Burros only
threw 90 passes in 15 games last season.
"I really don¹t see too much action at cornerback," he said. "I had a real
strong sophomore year so teams are afraid to throw to my side. It gets kind
of lonely over there sometimes, but I still find a way to get in there and
make some plays."
Russell gets involved in a lot of play sheerly through his remarkable
"I feel my speed has gotten better," he said. "I was fast last year,but I
feel like I'm faster this year because I worked a lot over the summer on my
speed. I'm playing the ball more this year than playing the man. Most of
the time I¹m matched up on the other team's best receiver. Usually, I stick
to him like glue."
Russell's improvement has been aided by a friend, Brentwood defensive end
Steven Jones, who is also being recruited by Tennessee.
"My fastest time is 4.43," Russell said. "I did a lot of speed work over
the summer with a friend of mine named Steven Jones. I worked out with him
and his dad and his dad had me doing a lot of drills and stuff."
Russell's improvement has not gone unnoticed, as more and more schools have
come forth with scholarship offers.
"I've been hearing from everyone," he said. "I've had offers from all my
favorites. I'm looking for a good coaching staff. I don't want to go
anywhere I¹m not going to feel comfortable playing. I want to go where I¹'m
going to get a good education that has a good program in my major. I want
to have something to fall back on if football doesn¹t come through."
Russell is fully qualified and plans to major in journalism.
"I'm in this writing academy class in my school," he said. "We have
handpicked students that were chosen to be in the class. It's a
project-based class, we just do all kind of things like film making. We
wrote a book too, so I'll go down as a published author in my transcript."
In addition to striving to make his mark in the publication world, Russell
also works diligently in the weight room. He's currently lifting 250 on the
bench, 415 in the squat, 245 clean and 455 in the dead lift. He also has an
impressive 36-inch vertical leap which comes in handy on the basketball
court where he averaged 15 points as a junior.
Nicknamed "D-one" because of the multitude of major college scholarship
offers he has in both football and basketball, Russell plans to focus on
football in college and he's nearly completed selecting his final five.
"We're in the process of picking out schools I want to visit," he said.
"I've got my top three Tennessee, Florida and Alabama. I'll probably visit
Notre Dame and maybe Ole Miss."
Russell is being recruited by Tennessee assistant Jimmy Ray Stephens who
knows Hillsboro's head coach from their high school coaching days in
"Coach (Larry) Slade came to the Hickman County game and saw me play,"
Russell said. "I went to camp at UT this summer.
"I just like the tradition at Tennessee. I used to watch them when I was
younger and me and a friend of mine had dreams of playing together in high
school and going to the University of Tennessee. Now it's like a dream come
true. They¹ve had some many great players come through there. I like the
coaching staff and coach Fulmer is real nice."
If Russell chooses UT, he will make a dream come true for himself while
perhaps becoming a dream corner for the Vols.