Miami Carol City safety Randy Russell felt right at home when he committed to the Gators in July after Friday Night Lights. The relationship between Russell and Florida’s coaching staff is even more impressive when you consider the 5-foot-11 defensive back had yet to see the Gators in action.
That changed Saturday when Russell arrived in Gainesville for an unofficial visit to watch Florida host Tennessee, and it’s safe to say the rising prospect came away impressed.
“That was the best game I’ve ever been to. Period. Ever,” Russell said. “Best finish I’ve ever seen.”
With the amount of underclassmen making impressions for the Gators in the secondary, it would appear early playing time would be a significant factor for a defensive back. It’s definitely an intriguing aspect for prospects, but it wasn’t the primary reason he committed to UF.
“Not necessarily the early playing time. But where I would be at school, and I feel like the football part will take care of itself,” Russell, who plans on enrolling in January, said. “When I’m competing I’m a dog, so when I’m competing the football won’t be an issue.
“It’s the coaches that drew me here.”
While continuing to focus on his senior season at Carol City, Russell arrived in Gainesville looking to build relationships with his future teammates at UF.
“I wanted to be here for the game, of course,” said Russell, when asked what he looked to get out of the weekend visit, “but mostly just interacting with the recruits and other commits and being able to enjoy the game.”
Seated at the end zone for the dramatic final moments, Russell had a full view of UF quarterback Feleipe Franks’ 63-yard heave to Tyrie Cleveland as time expired. While the moment shocked the Volunteers and the 87,000-plus fans in attendance, Russell had faith that his future quarterback put the ball right on the money.
“I saw it as it happened, I saw everything as it developed,” Russell said. “So once I saw him let the ball go I knew it was a touchdown.”
Although he’s committed to the Gators, Russell still continues to receive interest from programs around the country, including UCLA and Michigan.
Just because they’re interested in him, however, doesn’t mean the feeling is mutual. He’s taking a lone official visit – Florida’s Nov. 25 match-up with Florida State – and doesn’t anticipate wavering in his commitment.
“I’m locked in,” Russell said. “100 percent, there’s no one else.”