In the third round of the NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs selected KeiVarae Russell, cornerback from Notre Dame.
If the Jaylon Smith saga and emotional jolt didn’t quite fill your quota of feel-good stories, perhaps the selection of KeiVarae Russell by the Kansas City Chiefs will help fill whatever void you may have (you sadistic robot). Russell’s tale isn’t quite so sad, but it took a lot longer and the outcome remained foggy for quite some time.
Russell arrived at Notre Dame as an athletic and wirey kid that most likely would end up as the new “Kelly’s slot guy” project. Russell played running back in high school and was a four star recruit from Everett, Washington. Going into fall camp, most of the media and blog community just thought he would fall into the middle of the depth chart somewhere at the slot.
And then he got moved to the other side of the ball.
Notre Dame had a crushing need at cornerback and they moved Russell over to see what they had. What they found out was that Russell could ball. As a true freshman in 2012, KeiVarae Russell started every game for Notre Dame at cornerback on one of the best defenses the school had ever seen and it was during their undefeated season.
It was truly an amazing sight to see a young corner play so well in games that meant EVERYTHING all season long. Russell backed that season up with a strong showing in 2013 despite the teams collapse in the second half of the season. It had most people thinking that the 2014 season would be his last as he would enter the NFL Draft early.
Then, in fall camp, Russell was suspended due to an academic violation that was never really explained although there were plenty of rumors and theories. Russell went back home to Washington and enrolled in community college- all the while he trained continually to come back to Notre Dame.
It would be easy to say that his future was uncertain at that point, because it was. However, Russell’s determination to make it back to Notre Dame and then eventually fulfill his dream of playing in the NFL kept his motor running (which seems to be running in the red most tines anyways). He cleared the academic hurdles after sitting out the entire 2014 season, and entered fall camp for 2015 fighting for a job.
Russell eventually won his job back and was once again the starter at corner to begin the season. He had to shake off some rust after not playing for over a year, but eventually he found his groove again and made two game-saving / game-winning interceptions against USC and Temple. He suffered an injury in the Boston College game, and missed the Stanford game and the bowl game against Ohio State. We eventually learned that he was playing with an injury all season.
And then the NFL Draft happened. Third round to the Kansas City Chiefs- a team that is very much in need of corners. Russell has been through a lot to finally make his dream come true and play in the NFL. Now, he has to make more goals and develop more dreams to continue that journey of his. I say he makes it.