Since the day he signed with Mississippi State, Tyler Russell has patiently waited his turn to take the field as the leader of the Bulldogs.
The former Gatorade Player of the Year in Mississippi has seen spot duty for State and even started a game or two, but he hasn’t taken on the role of being “the man” until now.
“This will be a little different for me, to actually be named the starter and lead the team,” said Russell. “Last year I could sit back and let Chris (Relf) say everything. Now I have to be the guy to step up and speak up when things aren’t going right. I’ve got to be the one to step up and get in their face to tell them this isn’t easy.”
Anyone who knows Russell understands he’s a rather laid back and patient individual. He enjoys spending time outdoors on the lake or chasing whitetails, but when asked to be assertive he doesn’t back down.
“I want the guys to know that Tyler is going to give the team everything his has at everything we do,” said Russell. “When the guys see you’re putting in 100 percent then they will want to play for you. I want them to be able to count on me and trust me that even if we are down 20 points in the fourth quarter that Tyler has enough that he isn’t going to give up.”
Russell feels the time is now for State to make a move in the nation’s most difficult conference and he’s not alone.
“A couple of days ago Chad (Bumphis) sent me a message talking about this is our year and that we have a lot to prove,” said Russell. “That’s something that I hadn’t seen in the past years. This team is close, they are my brothers. I really do think everybody is locked in and ready to go. We are just ready to play.”
It is not all talk according to Russell. Voluntary offseason workouts have been improved in his eyes with maximum effort each time out.
“Dak (Prescott) and I, we are pretty much the only two quarterbacks right now and we are getting a lot of balls because we’ve got a lot of wide receivers,” said Russell. “Our offseason workouts have picked up tremendously. We only throw about 30 minutes a day but it is full out, you should be tired when you get done. Right now that’s what we need. A couple of years ago we would throw for and hour, we would get stuff done but it wouldn’t be this intense.”
In three weeks fall camp will open and the Bulldogs will begin to answer questions and finalize preparation for the season. And while the work will be intense Russell admits the success this fall is possible because of the work put in during the spring.
“It starts in the offseason. In the spring it was about showing the young guys that this is how we’ve got to where we are at and where we want to go,” he said. “These are the things we have to do to be successful.
“It goes from working out to the classroom and doing the right things on and off the field. I feel like we’ve all done a good job of that.”
Voluntary workouts continue through July with fall camp beginning on August 2nd and at that point coaches can interact with their players. Until then, Russell will continue to embrace his role as the leader of the Bulldogs.