Oregon State (1-6, 0-4 Pac-12) at Colorado (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12)
When: Saturday, 1 p.m. MT.
Where: Folsom Field in Boulder
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Given his decision to walk-on for the football team at the University of Colorado was somewhat of a family affair for Brady Russell, he figured he'd hear from good ol' Uncle Matt from time to time during his Buffaloes career.
He did so on Saturday in a conversation equal parts rewarding and comical.
Russell is the nephew of former Colorado All-American linebacker Matt Russell, who also serves as the Denver Broncos' Director of Player Personnel. During the FOX Sports broadcast of the Buffs' loss last week at Washington, during which Russell made the first four catches of his career and helped show Buffs fans the tight end position does indeed exists in CU's offense, he was referred to as Matt Russell's son.
Not quite. But Brady Russell's CU lineage nonetheless runs strong.
"I did hear from my uncle afterwards. It actually was pretty funny," Russell said. "On TV they said he was my dad. So he sent me a video of the TV and he said, 'I didn't realize I was your dad.' He said 'Good job.' But yeah, my whole family is excited about it. They also would have been excited no matter where I went. They just wanted to see me do well. Which I think is a great part of my family."
Russell graduated from Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins and set aside other offers in order to walk-on with the Buffaloes. He was honored for his effort and diligence during a redshirt season last year by being named the Buffs' Offensive Scout Player of the Year, and in August head coach Mike MacIntyre rewarded all that hard work by giving Russell a scholarship.
In his first meaningful action in CU's passing attack, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Russell collected four catches for 23 yards at Washington. The first of those receptions was an 11-yard grab for a first down early in the second quarter on a drive that ended with an Evan Price field goal.
"With Brady, that's a guy who does a lot of things for us," CU co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said. "He can put his hand in the dirt. He can stand up and catch footballs. He knows the offense. He knows where to be. He's a consistent guy. I've been very proud of the way he's developed since he's been here. He's someone that I trust to get footballs to. And when you trust someone, that's when you're going to get the ball to him."
Of more immediate concern to Russell than living up to his family's football heritage (Russell's father also played at Arkansas, and he has a brother that played at Northern Colorado) is to help continue making the tight end spot a viable option in the Buffs' offense down the stretch. After being targeted exactly zero times through the first six games, Russell and Chris Bounds (one catch, 15 yards) took advantage of the position getting dusted off for the game plan at UW.
With the Buffs still squarely in the mix for the Pac-12 South Division title despite two straight losses, contributions from every corner will become imperative over the final five games, a run that begins Saturday in a homecoming battle against Oregon State at Folsom Field (1 p.m., Pac-12 Network). While the tight ends never will be a focal part of the CU offense, utilizing them as more than just an extension of the offensive line will give quarterback Steven Montez more options in an attack that might still be missing receivers Laviska Shenault (toe) and Jay MacIntyre (concussion) this week.
"When you're playing a really good defense like Washington, you've got to do some things they haven't seen before," Chiaverini said. "I think getting the tight ends incorporated into what we're doing...it's the same concepts, it just includes the tight end. It was good to see Chris Bounds and good to see Brady Russell catch some footballs. I thought we gave ourselves a chance in that fourth quarter to win that game, we just didn't finish the way we needed to finish."