Russell Haughton-James always knew that football was his main sport, and his ticket to a college scholarship, but that didn't stop him from playing other sports in high school. The athletic offensive lineman said that a motivation to learn about other sports and see what their challenges held was a prime motivator in making him try as many different ones as he could.
"I wanted to see what other people saw in different sports, and I wanted to try them and see what they got out of them," the enthusiastic lineman said. "I wanted to be able to say, 'I did that'.
Haughton-James recently finished up a high school career that included participation in football, baseball, basketball, wrestling, track, lacrosse and rugby. In some, such as football and wrestling, he was a ranked state competitor, but he believes he received value for his efforts at each sport. In an age where specialization and year-round training to one sport is becoming the norm, Haughton-James is something of a Renaissance man in the athletic arena, trying as many different sports as he could. In his final stop on the baseball diamond, he got a handful of innings as a pitcher and a few at-bats while his team advanced to regional play, and he couldn't have been more happy with adding another experience to his list.
"Absolutely," he said confidently when asked if the experiences were worth his while. "I got to learn about those different sports and try them, and it was a great experience."
While Haughton-James was completing his busy athletic career, he was also embarking on West Virginia's workout plan, and after just a few weeks, said he can see the difference in results.
"I've been doing the workouts for about six weeks, and it's a lot different," he explained. "It goes a lot deeper than what we did in high school. In high school it was mostly Olympic lifts – cleans, bench press and things like that. This plan gets into how your body works and into getting it into the right positions. There are lunges, jumping with weights, and a lot of different things."
With his high school career now behind him (his graduation was two weeks ago), the versatile lineman is now preparing to report to West Virginia on June 5.
"I'll be coming up in just a few days, and I've been getting everything ready to go," he said. "I've been talking with Dustin Garrison, who will be my roommate, and we've been deciding who will bring what, but mostly we've just been talking about what we will do when we get there. I am very excited."
Haughton-James also speaks with offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh frequently, and said that he will begin his career as a tackle at WVU.
"I just want to get there and get going," he said of his expectations for the coming year.