Keivarae Russell fit the mold of what Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly wants in skill player, and it shows even as summer conditioning takes place.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Russell committed and signed with the Irish as an athlete, and there is a chance he will not know his future position until training camp hits.
Mariner High (Everett, Wash.) coach Dave Odrizack said his one-time star headed to Notre Dame last weekend without his position known, although it appears he will begin his career on the offensive side.
“I think they probably want to get a look at him this summer and see what he can do, and what their needs are,” Odrizack said. “. He is a versatile football player. He could play the slot, or even wide, because he is about 6-foot and he catches the ball extremely well. And once he catches it, he can do something with it.
“Who knows? Where he plays as a freshman may not be where he plays two years from now. He can turn into a 220-pound, 225-pound running back.”
Russell finished his senior season with 1,293 rushing yards on 177 carries. He also scored 14 touchdowns despite missing three games because of injury. He also had five catches for 69 yards and a score, and that came after a junior season in which he ran for 1,850 yards and 20 touchdowns.
“One thing he liked about Notre Dame is he liked their offense,” Odrizack said. “They throw to the backs a lot and put them out in patterns, or he could play receiver and they throw a lot. He was recruited as an athlete with the idea he could play any (number of) positions.
“He didn’t go in there thinking he wanted to be any one spot. He didn’t go in thinking, ‘I want to be a corner,’ or ‘I want to be a running back.’ He just went in to be a football player.”
Whether Russell plays as a freshman could hinge on his ability to adjust over the summer to workouts and the academic stress of the school.
“He’s going there with the goal to play. I think the key is this summer,” Odrizack said. “Going there this summer is the best thing for him. He’ll get used to the system, he’ll get on campus and he’ll be very focused and prepare himself for football.
“He’ll be in their training table (meal program) and he’ll be in their workout program. You’ll feel more comfortable because you get time to get used to the college atmosphere and being away from home.”
But Odrizack added he could see Russell making an impact as a freshman because of his approach.
“Another reason I think he’ll play right away is his great attitude,” he said. “He’s a very coachable kid. He told coaches that he would play wherever they want him to play. They know they won’t have a battle with him.”