Russell: Big Shoes to Fill

In addition to balancing his recruitment, this season Tripp Russell will have to fill the gapping hole on defense left by All-American linebacker and Florida State signee Derek Nicholson.

Russell, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker from Winston-Salem (N.C.) Mount Tabor, is being moved from defensive end – a position he has started at since his sophomore season – to middle linebacker.

"I've been working with Derek [Nicholson] ever since I was a freshman," said Russell. "Just being around him you learn so much, and he helps you out. It's going to be tough learning a new position, getting the reads down, and plays, but I'm definitely up for it. I'm really excited for this year."

On the recruiting front, Russell has yet to land his first scholarship offer. However, most ACC and SEC schools are recruiting him for his versatility to play quite a few positions at the next level.

"I'm getting a lot of interest from all over the ACC and SEC schools like South Carolina," said Russell. "Mostly the main ones are [North] Carolina, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Clemson, schools like that."

Russell earn scholarship offers on the summer camping circuit with possible stops including Virginia Tech, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Clemson, and N.C. State.

With so much up in the air, Russell doesn't claim a leader, but was impressed by what he saw during the three unofficial visits he took in April including a trip to Wake.

"Wake Forest shows me a whole lot of interest," said Russell. "I've visited the campus a few times."

"I don't really have a favorite right now," said Russell. "I go to Carolina often – I've been to a couple of their games this past fall – so I like them a lot. I like Wake, too. It's right in my backyard. I went down to Clemson, too, and that was pretty impressive and they're doing a lot of big things."

At his new position, Russell hopes to repeat the feat of leading the state in fumble recoveries. Last season he recovered nine, while also recording 121 tackles including nine sacks.

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