Talonnie Russell was born and raised in Big Ten country. His favorite team is from the Big Ten. Six of his seven scholarship offers are from Big Ten schools, including nearby Michigan State.
But, the 5-foot-10, 161-pound receiver and three-star recruit from perennial powerhouse St. Martin De Porres High School in Detroit may end up playing in the ACC.
That became a stronger probability when Russell, who is ranked the No. 7 prospect in Michigan by Rivals.com, recently narrowed the number of schools at the the top of his list, naming two favorites.
“Wisconsin and North Carolina are my leaders now,” Russell said. “Both have good business programs and that is what I want to major in. I also like both of their styles of play.
“UNC doesn’t really spread its offense out, but they do throw the ball a lot and they get a lot of their receivers into the game.
“Wisconsin spreads it out and while they don’t throw it a lot they have a real good running game.”
Russell, who has been an Ohio State fan since childhood, said he is also considering Illinois, Michigan State and Minnesota. All three of those schools have offered scholarships along with Iowa, Purdue, UNC and Wisconsin. Iowa and Illinois are reportedly recruiting Russell as a defensive back.
Russell said he has official visits planned to UNC and Wisconsin in early December. He has taken a handful of unofficial visits to Michigan and Michigan State.
“My Mom and I are going to visit UNC together,” he said.
Chapel Hill is more than 700 miles away from Russell’s home, but don’t expect that to play a major role in where he decides to commit. Depth charts definitely will.
“Distance really isn’t important as how many receivers a team has in their lineup or how many starters are coming back,” Russell said. “I don’t want to go to a place that has too many receivers.”
What makes Russell a dangerous receiving target?
“I use my hands to catch the ball and I can turn a 5-yard catch into a 75-yard gain,” he said.
Russell, a four-year starter, has helped DePorres (8-4) rebound from an 0-2 start to reach Michigan’s Division 7 semifinals on Saturday. He also plays defensive back and returns kicks.
Russell said he is weeks away from announcing a commitment.