Selma’s Mac Russell smashes records in his stellar collegiate career

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 29, 2002

Sometimes we wander through life, always looking for the place we need to be.

After some searching, Mac Russell finally found his place and when he did, he saw his life become filled with success.

A Morgan Academy graduate, Russell spent time at the University of Alabama and at MMI before winding up at Hampden Sydney College in Virginia. Hampden Sydney is a small liberal arts school where Russell played college football over the last couple of years. While Russell was there, he absolutely shattered every previous passing record in school history.

“It was too late for me to get in to any other schools when I left Alabama so I enrolled at MMI until I could figure out what I wanted to do next,” said Russell, describing his wanderings. “I decided to pray that I would be able to find a school that I would enjoy going to, and was comfortable at. I heard my grandma say something about how my grandfather had went to Hampden Sydney before he left for World War II, and that he had liked it. So I looked the school up on the internet, and saw that they had a new football coach coming in, and everything sort of fell into place like it was meant to be.”

It must have been meant to be, because while at Hampden Sydney not only did Russell have an outstanding athletic career, but he will obtain a history degree with honors very soon. Russell’s timing was perfect.

“Mac and I arrived at the same time,” said Hampden Sydney head football coach Marty Favret. “The relationship that we have has been a lot more than a player-coach relationship. He has been on the field for every game of my college coaching career. It is going to be weird going out there in August without him on the field.”

Coming into a program with a new head coach, and a clean slate was perfect for Russell and Favret. The program had gone 1-9 prior to Russell and Favrets’ arrival, but has blossomed into a winner over the last three years.

“It was a blessing to be a part of the turning-around process in the football program,” said Russell. “It is something that I will always remember, because of the fact that it wasn’t just one person it was a team effort.”

Not only did football bring a player and his teammates together, it helped bring an already close family even closer together. While Russell was playing at Hampden Sydney this past season, his mother attended every game, and his father only missed one. There was even a bus trip where friends and family attended a game.

“My dad only missed one game, and that was because he was on a mission trip,” said Russell. “My mother made every game this season, it was really good to be able to see them so much. We figured up around how many miles they traveled this season, and it was around 40,000. One of the biggest enjoyments was to see how much they enjoyed watching me play, and how much happiness it brought them.”

Even though football is where Russell received most of his acclaim, the education he received while at Hampden Sydney is just as important.

“Being able to get a chance to go to such a good school was a blessing,” said Russell. “Not only to be able to play football and accomplish the things that I was able to, but to also get such a good education was really a blessing.”

What very few people realize about Russell is that awards and attention are nice, but the desire to win meant more than anything else on the field. The fact that he holds the records for most individual passing yards in a game, most passing yards in a season, most completions in a game, most completions in a season, and is tied for the most touchdown passes in a career doesn’t mean a whole lot to him.

“Breaking the passing records didn’t even mean that much,” said Russell. “I just felt blessed not to have been hurt, and that I was able to compete. The awards just came about, because of my desire to win.”

A passage written in a letter to Russell’s parents, Donnie and Cherry, from coach Favret sums up Mac’s career at Hampden Sydney pretty well.

“I know there’s one thing I will never forget about your son. Thirty different Saturdays he came to battle with a fearless and ferocious desire to win and compete. There was never talk about his ‘stats’ or anything else but ‘we got to win,'”said Favret. “This is a part of Mac that very few people understand but it’s what sets him apart.”

Now that his football career is over and another stage of his life is about to take place there’s no doubt that Russell will be successful in whatever he chooses to try. With the help of family, friends, and his faith in God, Mac will prosper, and hopefully fulfill his dream of owning that restaurant in Orange Beach one day.