At 6 feet, 6 inches Mason Russell looks like he was born to play football, and it seems famed coach Larry Coker agrees. The 290-pound Turlock High alumnus recently agreed to take his talents to the new football program at the University of Texas at San Antonio, fulfilling one of his many goals.
“I’m very excited. It’s been my dream since I was playing Pop Warner football at eight years old,” Russell said. “It’s finally coming true.”
Russell’s dreams formed at a young age when his step father introduced him to the game of football. At age eight Russell was playing for the Denair Lions, where his step dad coached, and instantly fell in love with the game. After his first year of football Russell switched teams, opting to play for the Turlock Vikings where he played for five years.
When it was time for high school Russell became a Bulldog, playing offensive and defensive line at Turlock High. Before he graduated in 2009, Russell had earned offensive and defensive lineman of the year honors as well as overall lineman of the year in both his junior and senior years. Russell was also named first team all district and was invited to play in the KCRA Classic All Star Game, Lions All Star Game, and Rotary All Star Game, a rare feat for local athletes.
“It was a great experience. I look back at that now as some of the best times of my life,” Russell said of his time at Turlock High. “I know I have more to come, but up until now that was the best time.”
With his high school days behind him Russell joined the San Joaquin Delta Mustangs where he again played both ways on the line. Russell missed his first year at Delta due to a shoulder injury, but by 2010 he was healthy and ready to play, and play he did. In his first year with the Mustangs Russell was named to the All Conference team for his performance on the offensive and defensive line. In 2011 he received the same awards and was also named an All State player as he helped lead Delta to a Togos Bowl victory.
“Football is everything to me, it’s a way of life,” Russell said. “You have to eat, sleep, and breathe football if you’re a player at this level.”
His commitment to the game and on-field performance garnered Russell a lot of attention from scouts and coaches around the country who were eager to sign the promising athlete. In the end Coker’s clout and legacy of success was enough to convince Russell that San Antonio was the best fit.
“Larry Coker has the most active players in the NFL right now, that he’s coached,” Russell said. “That’s been my dream since I was a kid as well, and he’s the best man to help me do it.”
Russell will join a Road Runner squad in their second season of existence, which should mean immediate playing time for the Turlock native. Although official papers still need to be signed — and Russell still needs to practice with the team — he is projected to be an integral part of the Road Runners’ offensive line.
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