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TWO-A-DAYS: Belated 85 Days to Kickoff! - Dontavius Russell

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Despite not being the superstar of the Auburn front four, Russell was the steadiest of presences for the defense throughout his career.

NCAA Football: SEC Football Media Day Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

THE RECRUIT

Dontavius Russell was a 4* recruit out of Carrollton, Georgia. The tackle was only the #12 DT in the 2014 class, but he was viewed by multiple scouts to be someone with the physical skills to contribute early in his career. He was also an Under-Armour All-American, and had offers from all of the big players in the SEC.

Russell committed to Georgia in April of 2013. After attending the best football game of all time, though, Russell decommitted from the Bulldogs, and committed to Auburn a few weeks later. Rodney Gardner always gets his man.

THE PLAYER

Russell redshirted for the 2014 season, as is common with defensive line recruits. After that, Russell would earn the start for the 2015 opener against Louisville, and would never look back. A model of consistency, Russell started all but two games between that Louisville game in Atlanta and the Music City Bowl this past December.

Atlanta would actually become Russell’s favorite place to play, be it in the Georgia DOme or Mercedes Benz. Between the Louisville game, the 2017 SEC Championship, and the Washington game this past year, Russell recorded 11 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, and 3 sacks.

Russell won’t go down as one the all-time fan-favorites. He won’t go down as one of the best. But there’s a lot to be said for having a position where you can set and forget a spot on your roster for four entire seasons. I’m not kidding, he holds the record for most starts by an Auburn defensive lineman. All of this while Auburn has had d-line talent in spades. He will be missed next season.

Here’s two of my favorite #95 highlights. First, when he wiped Jake Fromm off the face of the earth...

...then, when he looked like a Heisman winning running back.

Dontavius Russell was drafted by the Jaguars in the 7th round of the 2019 NFL Draft. While he’s not guaranteed a roster spot, his work ethic and determination will carry him far. He’s been playing with NFL talent around him for his entire career, so there’s no reason to think he won’t be able to continue to be productive at the next level.