BEAVERTON, Ore. - KeiVarae Russell doesn't want to name a top three, he really doesn't, but he said Wednesday at The Opening that Washington, Notre Dame and Cal are some favorites and he's starting to set up visits.
Russell, a four-star running back from Everett (Wash.) Mariner, has an official visit planned to Notre Dame for the USC game on Oct. 22 and he will reserve his last trip for Washington. Cal will also get an official visit and Russell said Boise State is also looking good in his recruitment.
The Irish, Huskies and Golden Bears are in the best shape for Russell, rated eighth at running back and No. 106 in the 2012 class by Rivals.com.
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"The academics really stand out," Russell said of those three programs. "If you get a degree from Notre Dame or Cal you're set for life.
"Washington's degree is starting to get strong as well. (Washington) is on the rise. You've seen the commits they're having. A lot of top players want to go there so (Washington) is on the rise, Notre Dame really was never down that much and then Cal is on the rise as well."
The prevailing notion is that the last visit is probably where the prospect is headed but Russell said that's not necessarily the case with Washington although the Huskies are one of the favorites.
Because he's an in-state kid, Russell said he wants to give Washington respect and that's a big reason why it will get his last trip.
"The first impression means a lot," Russell said. "I think the first schools have the benefit because of first impression.
"(Washington) is going to have to really show me something if they're the last one. That's why I'm giving them the last one because it's hometown. It's easier to give them the last one."
Russell, who rushed for 1,232 yards and 14 touchdowns on 159 carries in his junior season, said Cal and Notre Dame like him exclusively at running back. Washington's coaches have discussed using him as a running back and as a slot receiver as well.
For Russell, position doesn't matter that much.
"Wherever they want me, I'll be there," Russell said.