The principal at Everett (Wash.) Mariner said Thursday that it was one of the biggest days in school history and that meant a lot to four-star all-purpose back KeiVarae Russell since it was the day he was presented with his U.S. Army All-American Bowl jersey.
"It's a great honor," Russell said. "It's probably the biggest thing that's happened to me so far in my life. To be able to represent the Army, the Army is a big thing in our world, everyone knows that, so to represent these guys on the football field and to be sponsored by them is just a great thing.
"It also shows my hard work, what I've done inside and outside of the classroom and what I've done on and off the field. My hard work is starting to show but I still have a lot to prove. (The principal) did say that and that was an extremely big honor. It was about me and he was essentially saying I was a special person in his life so it was kind of touching to hear that."
Russell, a 6-foot, 170-pound prospect who's rated fourth at all-purpose back and No. 112 in the 2012 class by Rivals.com, is especially excited about his week in San Antonio because the West offensive line is so strong and could be dominant. It's one of the best offensive line classes in recent memory on the West Coast and Russell said he cannot wait to run behind it.
"I was telling people that the West offensive line is outstanding," said Russell, who might also be used as a slot receiver. "I'm going to have Zach Banner and Arik Armstead as the West offensive tackles? It's just over.
"The o-line is going to be nice. I'm really looking forward to this game because it's going to be so much fun and I want to compare myself against the best of the best. I did that a little over the summer but now we have a game. It will be fun to see how I compare against them but also to have fun and meet the best guys around the nation."
The four-star recruit who's rated third in the Washington state rankings took his first official visit to Notre Dame last weekend and while the Irish were handily dismantled by USC, Russell said he saw a lot of positive things - on and off the field. He said what stood out most was the support South Bend showed its football team.
"That was a great visit," Russell said. "Everywhere you go you hear about Notre Dame and how much hype they get for being a national program, being independent, having all their games on TV.
"It's a Catholic school but they still know how to have fun with it. I like that a lot that I can get that private school education but you still get time to relax and reminisce what's going on and they know how to have fun.
"The coaching staff is great and the community support is the biggest thing for me for sure. Their community is a football community and a football city. They love football. That is a football school. They live and breathe football so I love that about them."
Since Russell hasn't taken any other official visits, though, he isn't prepared to name a leader. Before that is done, Russell plans to visit Cal, USC and Washington and is considering a trip to Oregon as well. This week and next Russell is supposed to get in touch with those respective coaching staffs to set up dates.
"I'm waiting to take visits," Russell said. "I can't really put a leader on it because I've only had one official visit to see what that school is like on a daily basis.
"I like to see how these schools are on a game day and then I like to stay a little while longer to see how they are on a Sunday so I can't really say there is a leader just yet until I take some more visits."
As for making his commitment, Russell is undecided whether to make it in December in front of family and friends in Everett or delay his decision until the Army game where he'd probably be able to announce on national television.
"Whenever my five visits are done that's when I'll start thinking about making my decision," Russell said.
"It will probably be around December but I'm also thinking about doing it at the All-American game because that seems kind of fun. I also want my community, my family and my friends around me when I do commit so I'm thinking about doing it around here as well."