Shaun Russell is one of the NPSL’s most promising prospects and it’s no surprise that he was invited to the 2016 NPSL Combine. It’s a great opportunity for scouts and coaches to see Russell going up against the league’s top players.
He’s excited for the opportunity to realize his dream of becoming a professional soccer player.
“I am hoping to sign a professional contract at the combine but it’s more than that. I am hoping that a team takes a look at me and say ‘this kid can really have a positive impact for our club because he’s determined and hard-working. We can see that he goes out there with the attitude that no one is better than him.’”
Russell has been a success at every level and it all started with the Virginia Rush Academy in 2010. A successful high school and club career led the Chesapeake, Virginia native to play at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania.
Russell was a stalwart at SFU from Day One, making 12 appearances as a freshman in 2011. He would start every game for the next three seasons, helping the Red Flash reach the Northeast Conference (NEC) playoffs each year. He would also play a major role in leading the team to a NEC regular season championship in 2014, finishing with a record of 13-6-1. That record was the best in program history.
“Most people think that key moments in a game are scoring the game-winning goal or assist and things of that nature, but that’s not the kind of player I was at Saint Francis,” Russell added. “Having started since my freshman year at left back, I provided a lot more than my playing abilities. By the start of my junior year I was one of the leaders of my team. I played a big role because I was the captain of my back line. I had the most experience there.”
Russell would move on to play for NPSL side Virginia Beach City FC in 2015, helping the team to a second place finish in the Mid-Atlantic Conference. He would finish with three goals and two assists, but he was much more valuable to the squad than that.
“Shaun is a very athletic and versatile player,” VBCFC head coach Brian Hinkey remarked. “He is quick, strong, and has good breakaway speed. His tactical awareness is very solid. He reads the game well defensively. He is difficult to break down 1 v 1 and provides excellent cover when he is the weak side defender. His ability to contribute to the attack from the back position allowed him to score and set up some important goals for us last season.”
Joining the pro ranks is the next logical step for Russell after loads of success at the collegiate and NPSL levels. The 2016 NPSL Combine will give him the opportunity to make that jump.
“He is a left-footed player and with his speed will cause defenses a lot of issues,” Hinkey added. “I believe, if given the chance, he could assimilate well to the professional level and contribute to the success of a team quickly.”
Russell projects as a winger or outside defender in the pros. His versatility is a real plus as teams look for players that can fill multiple roles and positions. He also has all the intangibles that clubs are looking for.
“I would describe myself as a hard-working player who doesn’t give up, and as soon as I step foot on the pitch I give it my all,” Russell concluded. “I’m also a very passionate player.’
That makes Shaun Russell the complete package and a player to watch at the 2016 NPSL Combine.