GREENVILLE – Greenville senior Braden Russell is excited about the opportunity to help the Valparaiso University football team in its quest to continue improving.
Russell, the son of Bill and Teri Russell, committed to the Valparaiso football program on Wednesday.
“It feels awesome,” Russell said. “Everything has gone very well with working with (Greenville football) Coach (Aaron) Shaffer, and I just give all the glory to God for everything that he’s blessed me with.”
Valparaiso is an NCAA Division I Football Championship program in Indiana. The Crusaders compete in the Pioneer Football League along with Butler University, Campbell University, Davidson College, the University of Dayton, Drake University, Jacksonville University, Marist College, Morehead State University, the University of San Diego and Stetson University.
Valparaiso has been a team on the rise, improving its win total in each of the past two seasons. The Crusaders went 6-5 this past season, which put them in the top half of the Pioneer Football League and gave them their first winning season since 2003.
“They’ve gotten a lot better in the past few years,” said Russell, who plans to study mechanical engineering in college. “They went from being last to being third in the Pioneer Football League so the mix of academics and athletics was a real draw to me.”
Russell, who was named first team all North Division by the Greater Western Ohio Conference as a senior, will be an offensive lineman for Valparaiso. His size and athleticism should allow him to play well for the Crusaders, Shaffer said.
“Braden plays football with an attitude,” Shaffer said. “As an offensive lineman, he’s a big kid; he’s an athletic big kid. Probably his No. 1 strength is his competitiveness. He’s a physical run blocker yet he’s athletic enough to get out in space and protect in pass protection.”
Russell is excited to be part of Valparaiso’s resurgence on the football field and wants to contribute to the success by earning a starting spot at some point in his collegiate career.
“I obviously want to become a starter down the line and then hopefully some Pioneer Football League awards if that’s possible,” he said. “Can only go up from there.”
Shaffer likes Russell’s potential and thinks he could have a very strong career at Valparaiso.
“It will be interesting to see how he progresses and grows over the next four years,” the Greenville football coach said. “He’s got a lot of growth to do both physically and athletically. It will be neat to see what he does up at Valpo.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.