- Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter
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He grew up in nearby Carrollton, Texas. The first football game he ever attended was a Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles affair. The lone visit he took in the pre-draft process was to the Cowboys.
"Every time the Cowboys [came up], I was like, 'Please, call me,' and my phone finally rang," Russell said.
The Cowboys took Russell, a defensive end, with their fifth round pick. He was the fourth defender in the top five picks and the second defensive end. Unlike second-rounder Randy Gregory, Russell is a left defensive end.
The Cowboys were honest in Russell's visits. They liked his measurables (6-5, 273 pounds). They liked his athleticism. They liked his potential. But they didn't like his inconsistency. While he started 47 of 50 games at Purdue, he had 10 sacks and only three as a senior.
"There were times where my get-offs weren't quite the same or my hand placement and my techniques get sloppy," Russell said. "So just cleaning those things up and playing one play at a time consistently and at a high level. Those are the things that I needed to work on."
He'll need to if his homecoming is to last. His mother moved closer to Purdue to watch him plays, so he doesn't call Carrollton home anymore. He still has an aunt who lives in the area and plenty of friends. He talks to his Carrollton Creekview coaches, but will get more of a chance now.
He last visited his hometown two summers ago.
He was in Buffalo, New York, for the draft at his grandmother's house. And he enjoyed his mother being close to Purdue.
"Out of the 12 games, she made it to 10, so that was a great experience," Russell said. "When she saw my name scroll across she said, 'I can't wait to go back home,' so we are definitely excited to be back in Dallas."
As the Cowboys' draft picks kept coming up, Ryan Russell found himself getting anxious. Dallas took Russell, a defensive end, with fifth-round pick.