Juneau-Douglas High School winter graduate Bret Russell has decided to join the growing number of Alaska football players headed to NCAA Division II University of Minnesota-Crookston this fall.
Russell, a second-team all-Cook Inlet Football Conference selection this fall at both center and interior defensive line, signed an NCAA Letter of Intent to join the Golden Eagles, where he becomes the third Juneau player and 11th Alaskan recruited this year. Russell will join Juneau teammates Jake Miller and Zac Campbell, who signed with UMC this winter.
"I'd pretty much go anywhere. I just want to play more football," said Russell, who will focus on the offensive line in college.
While Miller and Campbell both received scholarships to Minnesota-Crookston, Russell will attend the school as a preferred walk-on player. Russell said the school holds a couple of scholarships aside for preferred walk-ons who do well when they arrive, and he hopes to get one of them.
"I know I will step up to the task at hand," said Russell, who was a team captain for the Crimson Bears as they won their first CIFC title and posted a 7-2 record this fall. "I'll get the job done, I've done it before."
Russell, who has yet to decide on a major, said UMC's growing Alaska connection is something that attracted him to the school. Besides the 11 Alaskans the school recruited this year, there are three others already on the roster from last year.
"It was kind of a fluke how I heard about the school," Russell said. "I'd planned a trip to Minnesota to visit a buddy of mine, when I heard Zac and Jake had decided to go to Crookston. It was close to where my buddy lives, so I decided to check out the school. The school's nice. The school's small and I liked the campus."
Russell is listed at 6-foot-2, 280 pounds in the UMC press release announcing his signing, which is a drop of 20 pounds since the high school season. Russell said he plans to shed a few more pounds before he gets to school.
"I've been working out and I'll try to play at 260, at least that's what the plan is," Russell said. "I started at over 295 this fall and as the season went on I dropped down to 285-290."