That comfort played a key role in Russell announcing his commitment to Howard in June.
“It was a perfect fit for me and my family,” Russell said. “HBCU runs deep in my family and being a black male in America is important to me so Howard was a blessing.”
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Howard was Russell’s first offer and made him feel at home.
“They always showed me love and that was important to me,” he said. “I was just a kid trying to play football, but they made it feel like a family. Even leaving Texas for D.C., they still made it feel like home.”
Russell said the plan is to go in as a freshman and start.
“I want to make plays for my team and get my name out,” he said.
But he has some unfinished business to tend to at Timberview before he makes those dreams a reality. Chief among his checklist is to get Timberview back into the playoffs, something they missed out on for the first time since 2012 a season ago after finishing 3-7.
“I can promise you a better season,” Russell said. “Our goal is at least the second round. We have a strong team back and I feel like we can make a run. We’ve working extremely hard.”
The Wolves were reclassified into District 6-5A Division I along with Mansfield Legacy, Highland Park, Lancaster, Dallas Samuell, Dallas Wilson and Dallas Sunset.
“We want to surpass last season’s record. I feel we have the talent and ability to go undefeated with this group,” Russell said. “We have grown together as a group.”
There’s no shortage of talent on this group to make that happen. Just look at what Dave Campbell’s Texas Football said about the Wolves: “They may have the best trio of backs in the area in sophomores Montaye Dawson and Deuce Jones, and junior Stacy Sneed. They combined for 1,387 yards and 14 TDs a year ago. Expect that production to increase significantly in 2018. Jordan Davis will move to QB after spending last year at tight end. The Wolves will be fast and long in the secondary with Jalen Kimber and Russell.
Sneed is a 3-star prospect, has offers from Arizona and Baylor. He’s ranked as the No. 61 RB in the country and No. 92 overall prospect in the state. Dawson also holds offers from Arizona and Baylor.
Kimber, a 3-star 2020 cornerback, holds six offers from TCU, Texas A&M, Baylor, Houston, Oklahoma State and SMU. He’s ranked as the No. 36 CB in the nation and No. 84 overall prospect in the state.
“Recruiting is going great and I’m still taking everything in,” said Kimber, who visited TCU, A&M, Texas and SMU this summer. “Just taking things slow and not in a rush to do anything right now.”
Timberview returns eight starters, four on each side.
“Our whole team knows how to play together,” Russell said. “Everyone is an important piece to the team.
“We have been motivated since last year. We feel we can go 3-4 rounds deep and we’re going to try to make it 16 games like everyone else in the state. We want to be that group and set the tone for future years. We all want to let people know who Timberview is and that we’re slept on.”
Kimber added: “The defensive side has become really close since spring ball so things are heading in the right direction.”
Timberview begins the fall season on Aug. 13 and will open the season in Oklahoma on Aug. 31 against Bixby.
“It’s a big switch playing in Oklahoma,” Russell said. “It’s going to be one of my most memorable games during my senior season because I didn’t think I would play out-of-state until I got to college. It’s not a district game, but it’s still a business trip. We’re not going up there just to have fun, but to win.”
The Wolves also play Arlington Seguin and Mansfield Lake Ridge before district starts.
“I have high expectations for us,” Kimber said. “We have a lot of underclassmen. I feel like this team is really good, and should be the next two years.”