Not a day goes by when Fresno City College middle linebacker Tamarcus Russell isn’t thinking about his twin sons.
The sophomore from Dadeville, Ala., with phone in hand and pictures of his 2-year-old boys, Taylen and Tylen, in his virtual photo album, found it difficult to leave them behind with family members after high school even while chasing his dreams of playing at the NCAA Division I level.
Other teammates already are fathers, some who had to make quite the decision Russell did to travel 2,240 miles to play for the Rams. But he has proven to be a two-year leader on defense.
With three regular-season games remaining, including Friday’s game against Northern California second-ranked Laney (6-1, 2-0 Valley Conference) in Oakland, his junior college days are coming to an end and he wants to make the most of them.
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“That’s what I’m here for. I’m doing it for my kids,” said Russell, who was NorCal’s Defensive Player of the Week after Week 4. “Just grinding all the time for them and to be successful. It’s something I have to go through and do it for them and just look to the future because my kids are my fuel to my fire to being successful.”
While his eighth-ranked Rams sit at 3-4 overall and 0-2 in conference, Russell said there is still plenty for which to play.
“I’m just going to finish strong and go hard like it’s my last time on the field,” he said. “Do what I got to do.”
Russell leads the team, and is 12th in the state, with 61 tackles including 5.5 for a loss. Last season, he had a team-high 53 tackles.
“He has a lot of the same qualities as a Ray Lewis,” Rams coach Tony Caviglia said. “Like personality-wise and on the field. Although he’s not as big, he does a lot of things like good linebackers should do.”
And there are signs that the hard work put in by the 5-foot-11, 210-pounder, and the sacrifices of his family, will pay off. Several Mountain West schools have shown varying levels of interest, including Fresno State, San Diego State and San Jose State.
Coming to Fresno City was no accident.
Dadeville High assistant Brad Ford played for the Rams in the early 1990s, then for Alabama and one NFL season with the Detroit Lions.
Russell is eager to see where the next path will take him, while always keeping in mind that personal motivation he has back home in Alabama.
“With me coming out here, it was the biggest adjustment,” he said. “This experience made me grow as a person, and it showed me a lot. I came down here with the mindset that can’t nobody stop me. Keep working every day and do it for my kids. I have to make them proud.”
This week in JC football
Fresno City (3-4, 0-2) at Laney (6-1, 2-0), 6 p.m.
Sequoias (3-4, 0-2) at San Joaquin Delta (1-6, 0-2), 1 p.m.
Chabot (3-4, 2-0) at Modesto (5-2, 2-0), 6 p.m.
Golden Coast Conference
Cabrillo (0-7, 0-3) at Reedley (0-7, 0-3), 6 p.m.
West Hills (5-2, 3-0) at Hartnell (5-2, 3-1), 6 p.m.