By Bryan Cooney/Fort Myers News-Press
The rise of Dunbar High School freshman Shawn Russ Jr. on the football field has already yielded scholarship offers from a few of college football’s biggest programs.
After receiving an offer on Friday from the University of Florida, a school he has dreamed of wanting to play for since he was a kid, one of the area’s best athletes made his mind up that being a Gator felt right.
Russ became the first commit for the Gators in the class of 2023 Saturday, joining current Tigers teammate Christopher Thomas as a Florida commitment.
Even with offers from Miami, Florida State, Virginia, Georgia Tech and Florida Atlantic with more to come, the cornerback prospect didn’t want to wait, given the word that his ability and upside was enough for Florida head coach Dan Mullen and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham to give him a chance to be a Gator.
“I knew I was going to get the offer and all and it was my dream,” Russ said. “I’m a dream chaser so I have no choice but to chase my dream.”
With the coronavirus pandemic not allowing Russ the chance to meet with the coaches for the time being, he will make a trip up to campus in due time to check out Gainesville.
As a freshman, Russ was an immediate impact player for Dunbar, being selected to the News-Press All-Area Defensive Team. As a cornerback, Russ had five interceptions and also flashed his skills at wide receiver and as a return man for head coach Sam Brown.
Using his 6-foot-2 frame, along with his speed and leaping ability, allows Russ to excel in man-to-man coverage, which is a staple of what defensive backs at Florida play.
“I see they like to run a lot of man-to-man and man-on-man is the only real way you can see if you’ve got skills and I like to show off my skills,” Russ said.
Headlined by a pair of Florida commits in Russ and Thomas to go along with returning seniors Terrod Kearse, Roger Mottley and Kevoun Watts, the Tigers will boast one of the top defenses in the area heading into the 2020 season.