Qua Russaw: Electric 2023 ‘freak’ LB shares what he likes best about Georgia football
Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This rep has the latest with 4-star Qua Russaw. He’s the nation’s No. 5 EDGE and No. 37 overall prospect for 2023 on the 247Sports Composite. On3.com lists him as the nation’s No. 3 EDGE and the No. 8 overall prospect.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- The stories make the man with Qua Russaw. They also do well to define the “freak” athlete he is described (accurately) to be.
The alarm clock goes off for him at 4:30 a.m. most mornings of the school year.
That’s so he can be at the gym twenty minutes later to work out. Russaw put on about 40 pounds of muscle prior to and during his junior year because of that work ethic.
He did so without losing a blade of grass of his top-end speed.
There was a time when folks wondered if he might move back close to home after he saw 5-star Carver-Montgomery teammate James Smith move to IMG Academy last season. Would he hang around without another dominating defender on the Wolverines?
Russaw just played hard. Dug deeper. Summoned the same from teammates. He delivered an eye-opening junior season of 130 tackles, 27.5 tackles for losses and 16 sacks.
There was a time when Georgia wasn’t sure he could play out on the edge given his 6-foot-2-plus frame and his 236 pounds. He didn’t have the long arms.
So he decided to camp at UGA. He wanted to be there when all the elite 2022 and 2023 tackle prospects Georgia wanted were also set to camp.
Russaw competed. Didn’t lose one rep. He convinced the ‘Dawgs he could rush the passer despite being a few inches shy of the new prototype EDGE for the national champions.
He went to Alabama and only lost one rep that camp day, too. That was to highly-regarded 4-star OT Myles McVay out of St. Louis. McVay is a 6-foot-7 offensive tackle.
The stories just pile up.
“Ru” was at a training session when a promising local RB prospect was feeling bold. He felt he was faster than everybody there that day. That talented young man already has an offer from Georgia.
That training group did include former Alabama great and current NFL linebacker Mack Wilson, plus Power 5 players from Georgia Tech and Texas A&M. A 50-yard match race quickly popped up. That’s what a bunch of Alpha athletes do.
They left the industrial-sized fans of Madhouse Training behind for a nearby field. Qua won.
That young upstart wanted to run again. He took his shoes off. Wilson looked at Tracy Varner, a trainer at Madhouse and said the obvious.
“Coach, that Russaw is a freak,” Wilson said.
“Oh, you didn’t know?” Varner said to him at that moment.
Wilson found out.
“He literally outran a college running back and an NFL linebacker and the rest that day,” Varner said. “That was a kid there who went for 2,200 all-purpose yards in his freshman year of high school. I was like ‘Mack he is a freak’ and he was like yeah ‘I can see that.’ He said ‘Russaw can run’ and he really knew.”
Russaw visited Texas A&M once. He flew back on a Sunday. He worked out at 5 a.m. that next morning. In the midst of that, he shared he had a track meet later that day. They had been to Auburn, Miami and Texas A&M that week. They didn’t work out that week or run at all because of that visit schedule.
They worked out. It was a heavy squat day. Russaw squatted 405 for reps. The trainers at Madhouse told him not to run when he brought up that track meet. They worried about an injury and directly told him not to run.
Russaw ran anyway in the 100.
“He was like I didn’t win but I finished fourth,” Varner said.
He ran an 11.4. Still. He has been clocked at an 11-flat over the last year. The goal for him this spring was to run 10.9 in the 100.
“That same morning he was squatting 400-plus pounds for like 10 reps,” Varner said. “I told him you just cannot do stuff like that, man.”
The snippets can be simple, too. Like the fact, he can bench press 350 pounds 10 times. That adds up to a max effort of 400 pounds these days. His Madhouse trainers believe he will bench press 500 pounds in college.
He can squat 550 pounds right now, he said. The power clean is about 315 pounds.
“I don’t have that great form,” he said of that clean. “I just muscle it up mostly.”
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Family first: Getting to know Qua Russaw
Everyone calls him “Ru” these days. Save for his Mom and her friends. They call him “Qua” and that’s short for JaQuavious Russaw.
“Everyone calls me Russaw or Ru,” he said.
He is a family-first young man. That’s his motivation. He mentions his mother Jessica Wilmore as one of the biggest reasons for him to maximize his potential.
“I’m blessed by God and then I work hard on top of that,” he said. “I have the ability to work out every day and make those gifts he gave me even better. So I do. I’d say my why is my Mom and then my younger sisters. They are really my why. I’m the oldest. I also have a little brother. He is two years old.”
He’s not the best babysitter, but he gets the job done.
“I feel like through football I can do a lot for my family,” he said. “To take care of them and some life-changing stuff.
His family has roots in Troy. That’s about 55 miles away from Montgomery. But his mother saw a path for him. He was driven and wanted to excel. He found a way with the Madhouse training group to chase down his athletic potential.
Madhouse does not mean a group of weight room warriors that rise every day to lift like mad before dawn to become better players. There is a group of adult men at its core, former college players themselves, that strive to Make A Difference in the lives of young people with potential.
They have worked with a lot of current NFL players like Shaun Dion Hamilton and the aforementioned Mack Wilson. To name a few.
“I have to thank my Mom for letting me stay here and work with Madhouse,” Russaw said. “For trusting me to stay here with my mentor in coach Todd Dowell.”
He knows it would have been much harder to get noticed as a prospect without Madhouse. But he is most thankful for what those training methods revealed in himself.
“This place is hard,” Russaw said. “This place is nothing but work. Lifting weights. Lifting up yourself. Getting stronger and personal development. This place is more than a building. It builds you.”
He’s not a big fan of the showcase tours and marketing that goes hand-in-hand with recruiting.
“It is just something that I have to do,” he said.
What is he looking for in the right school?
“Just a hard-working team that wants to win,” Russaw said. “With the best players on the field. The best players on the field are usually the hardest workers.”
Russaw has no set timeline, but his decision could go to the early signing period.
“I’m committing in December,” Russaw said. “On Early Signing Day. I plan on enrolling early.”
He released his top 11 this month. The teams in the mix are Alabama State, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Miami, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Southern California, Texas and Texas A&M.
“Those 10 schools have been communicating well with me and all really want me on their team,” he said.
His decision could very well be linked to his aforementioned 5-star teammate James Smith.
“There is a high percentage chance that it is going to happen,” Russaw said. “With us together at the same school, we would push each other to do more. We see one another do more, the other one wants to do more and to do better than the other. It is like a competition to me with him.”
Check out his explosive junior year highlight film and his 2022 spring game reel below.
The best clips from that tape are actually sprinkled in the middle of those six minutes there. They are very much worth the watch.
“The ones in the middle show me getting to run and stuff,” he said. “I get to really chase that quarterback down there in a few.”
It will be hard for a critic to nitpick much there from what this explosive athlete has put on tape. He is just a big, explosive, fast and physical athlete. We won’t show many highlight reels off in this space quite like this one.
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Qua Russaw: How does “Ru” feel about Georgia?
What kind of player does he aim to be?
“I love football and I want people to see that when they watch me play,” he said. “I love to make tackles and it doesn’t matter how far away they are or how far down the field it is. I am going to chase it. That’s because I love football.”
Georgia could play him inside or outside in their front. That will not matter to him.
“I can do both,” he said. “Put me on the field and I am fixing to make a play for you.”
How does he feel about the Bulldogs?
“I feel like they have been recruiting me very well and getting me down there,” he said. “I’ve been down there five times. I think they are recruiting me well. They like my versatility and that I can do more than one thing. I can rush. I can run. I can play the run. Can drop back if I want to as a middle backer. But they can move me around the field.”
Glenn Schumann is his primary recruiter. What does he like best about UGA?
“What I like best about Georgia is their defense,” he said. “They’ve got a great defense. They had an outstanding defense last year.”
The Bulldogs showed him something last season.
“Take a look at the SEC championship,” he said. “They lost. I think they had it in them to get them the next time. That’s what I was mainly watching. Their defense. You know Alabama has a great defense with Will Anderson and Henry To’oto’o, too. All of those guys. I thought Georgia had it in them to get them the next time.”
Russaw would like to major in business or physical therapy. If his pro career takes off, he will invest in real estate.
“They have real estate classes at Georgia, too,” he said.
He paid attention to what Georgia did in the NFL Draft. The five defensive players that were selected in the first round. The new all-time record with 15 NFL Draft picks in one year.
“It shows you something about how they develop you well and they have the coaches coming through to put you into the league,” he said.
What is his dream?
“To be the best,” he said. “That’s it.”
Russaw got to watch UGA practice on his latest visit. It was a rare time when he did not have Smith with him. Smith had gone just prior to that. That was when Russaw took a trip to check out Auburn with current Atlanta Falcon Marlon Davidson.
Davidson, a former Auburn Tiger himself, was also a product of Madhouse Training.
How hard will it be for “Ru” to leave Alabama?
Leaving the state to play college ball will not be hard for him, he says. If that is the move.
“It won’t be hard,” he said. “I haven’t been staying with my Mom since like middle school.”
When DawgNation met him for 5 a.m. workouts recently, he wore an Alabama T-shirt. Yet on top of that was a Georgia hoodie.
Those could just be the clothes he threw on. Especially rising that early. But it is a pretty good parallel to two teams that are going to be in it for him for the long haul.
He’s been to Alabama four times. Georgia five times. Auburn has hosted him for four or five other visits.
What does Russaw think about the Crimson Tide?
“I feel like they are a hard-working team, too,” Russaw said. “They are very good with development and putting guys in the league and stuff.”
Are Alabama and Georgia similar in his mind? How are they different?
“I feel like they are almost the same but they are not,” he said. “They are similar. I will say that. Georgia is serious, but Alabama is more serious I feel like.”
“They are not a package deal. They are friends.”
Russaw aims to take a couple of officials this summer and a few in the fall to see some big games, he said.
The expectation here is for both Russaw and Smith to see Texas in June. The summer will also offer the chance to check out Ohio State and USC in California. Florida might also be a school that jumps in for late official visit consideration.
They’ve been to see Miami and to Texas A&M a couple of times as well.
“They’ve literally been to the same places on almost all of their visits,” Madhouse trainer Tracy Varner said. “At this point, I have no doubt they are going to the same place for college. Every visit has been to the same places together except for just a couple of times.”
They are likely to play together in college. Yet Varner will hit the pause button on any “package deal” talk.
His reasoning there is sound.
“They are not a package deal,” Varner said. “They are just friends. The way I look at it is each one of them stands at the top of anyone’s board on their own. Normally with a package deal, one of those kids is a little lacking compared to the other guy. His big brother is in the package. They really want this guy and will take his other guy in a package. These two guys stand on their own anywhere.”
“That’s why I say ‘No’ with everyone saying they are a package deal. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and usually with a package deal one guy is less talented than the other. They really want this talented guy and this other guy can play, so they will take him. They really want the talented guy. These two are not that. These are equal and can hold their own either way. I look at it as two friends who want to play together.”
The current thinking is to look for these young men to commit together on Early Signing Day in December. That could change, but that feels like a long-range plan.
“I’m saying December here but with those two it might be they go somewhere and say ‘Coach we are done’ and it could just be like that,” Varner said. “These kids might do that type of thing. They are not recruiting guys. They don’t love recruiting. They don’t like the interviews and having to text coaches all the time. They just want to play ball and be 16 and 17-year-old kids and hang out with their friends.”
“They just want to play. They want to come in here. Work. Go to their school and work and then go play there.”
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