FORT MILL — Committing early to college isn’t anything new these days, but for Fort Mill High sophomore Matt Russell, you could say his commitment came even earlier than this year.
Although just a verbal commitment, Russell has said he plans to play college lacrosse at Army once his days as a Yellow Jacket are done.
For Russell, going to West Point was something he has been committed to since childhood.
“I have wanted to be in the military my whole life,” he said. “It’s a great place for lacrosse and it has great academics.”
Russell has loved everything Army and said the lure of combat has always attracted him. He will have to commit a minimum of five years of service to the Army after graduation, but his college education is paid for and he’d enter the service as a commissioned officer.
Lacrosse scholarships fill up rather quickly because there are so few compared to most other sports, so players don’t wait until their junior or senior seasons to commit to a school.
Russell had Notre Dame, Harvard, Yale, John Hopkins and Navy knocking at his door, but it was Army that made him the best offer. He started getting offers over the summer.
“I wanted to be in combat and other than the Seals, the Navy can’t promise that,” he said.
The 6-foot-3, 175-pound Russell won Defensive Player of the Year for Fort Mill, compiling 51 groundballs and 12 caused turnovers. A member of 3D Lacrosse, he was an All-Star at the FLG event and Denver Shootout. He also attended the Baltimore Summer Kickoff and Jake Reed’s Nike Blue Chip event. He was just one of four sophomores to attend the Nike Ride event over the summer, which featured the top 50 lacrosse players in the country.
Russell said he wants to major in military defense strategic strategy or a foreign language and would like to become a Green Beret. Once his time is up in the military, he said he would like to go into the ministry and become a pastor.
Russell has been playing lacrosse since he was in the second grade. This will be his second year on the varsity team at Fort Mill High.
He said committing as soon as possible was a big step for him.
“It’s a lot of stress,” he said regarding the college hunt. “It took a lot of stress off.”
Russell still has to complete a complicated application process before he’s accepted to West Point and will have to keep his grades up through senior year. He is scheduled to graduate in 2016.