Auburn defensive tackle Dontavius Russell is expected to see a bigger role in 2017 following the departure of Montavius Adams. Russell enters his junior season as a two-year starter and is coming off a season in which he recorded 29 tackles with six quarterback hurries.
The defensive tackle is gaining some serious buzz as a top NFL draft prospect. One anonymous scout told WalterFootball.com that he sees Russell as potential first-rounder:
“Off the top of my head, guys that I think will get first-round love come draft time include: Derwin James (FSU), Trent Thomspson (UGA), Dontavius Russell (Auburn), Malik Jefferson (UT), Sam Hubbard (OSU), Adonis Alexander (VT), Vita Vea (UW), Christian Wilkins (Clemson), Iman Mashall (USC), Kevin Toliver (LSU), Dre’Mont Jones (OSU), Tavares McFaddden (FSU), Josh Sweat (FSU), Andrew Brown (UVA) …. Ronnie Harrison and Matthew Thomas are wildcards because their physical talent is incredible. I’m not saying they’ll all-go there, but physically and off flashes, they’re clear first-round talents.”
Russell will take over at nose tackle this season and already has impressed coaches during offseason workouts.
“He has to be conscientious that hey, you’re going into being a three-year starter,” Auburn defensive line coach Rodney Garner said. “The three-year starter expectations are different than a first-year starter. So he has to embrace those realistic expectations, not the recruiting service expectations. Here’s a guy who has time on task, that’s done it at a very, very effective level in this league, and you can’t dip. We got to continue; we just got to keep climbing. We got to climb the mountaintop.”
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