Russell Makes His Decision

Tripp Russell fits the profile of a Wake Forest football player – overlooked, undersized, but plays with a heart bigger than the state of North Carolina.

Now with his verbal commitment to Coach Jim Grobe, Tripp Russell will join the likes of ACC Defensive Rookie-of-the-Year Jon Abbate, who – like Russell – was overlooked by most colleges coming out of high school due to his lack of size.

"Yesterday I called up Coach [Bob] Sapp and I told him that I wanted to go over to Wake Forest and talk to the coaches some," said Russell. "Me and my family and Coach Sapp went over and meet with Coach Grobe and Coach ‘Mack' [Ray McCartney] and just let them know that I wanted to come play football there."

Russell, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound lineman/linebacker from Winston-Salem Mount Tabor, had deemed Wake Forest his leader shortly after receiving a scholarship offer following their summer camp. However, being involved with the program the last few weeks pushed Russell to make the pledge.

"The past couple of weeks I had been going to a couple of things at Wake," said Russell. "I went to their Fan Fest, and this week I went over to their scrimmage.

"The more I thought about it the more I just felt like this is where I fit in best. I just felt like this is the atmosphere and this is the place I want to be at the next couple of years."

Although he admires WFU's academic reputation and Coach Grobe's ability to get the most out of his players, when it came down to it, Russell chose the Demon Deacons for their family-like environment.

"The biggest thing I guess was just the atmosphere at Wake," said Russell. "It just feels like a big family there. I like the coaches there; they're a great group of guys. And I've gotten to know some of the football players there already, and even some of the students that go there. I just like the family feel you get there at Wake Forest. I just like the people there – the coaching staff, the players, and just all the people that are involved with Wake Forest."

Although Wake Forest is Russell's lone offer, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, and Army are showing strong interest. Whether they offer or not, Russell plans to stick with his commitment.

"Right now I'm very happy with where I'm at," said Russell. "Even if I had other options, overall Wake Forest is still my pick because they're just the total package."

With a talented roster that also includes North Carolina commit Ryan Taylor and Virginia commit O.C. Wardlow, Mount Tabor is one of the favorites to win the NCHSAA 4A Title. With Russell leading the defense from his linebacker position, the Spartans are off to a 2-0 start. Russell has already accumulated 15 tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble.

Russell's recruiting coordinator, McCartney, is recruiting Russell for defensive end, a position he played both his sophomore and junior years. He will, however, get a look at linebacker once he's on campus.

Prep NC Top Stories