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November 16, 2011TUSCALOOSA | By the end of Senior Day at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday, William Vlachos will have experienced the best of Georgia Southern's efforts, but the best the entire Football Championship Subdivision has to offer as well.
The University of Alabama center, among the seniors being honored before their final game at Bryant-Denny, will spend much of the afternoon blocking Eagles defensive lineman Brent Russell. And while pundits and oddsmakers may expect the Crimson Tide to have its way with an FCS school, Vlachos can expect nothing of the sort.
"They've got this All-American defensive tackle who is like the best player ever to play at their school, and he plays as hard as anybody," Vlachos said.
Russell was named an FCS All-American by the Associated Press as a sophomore in 2010. With more than a season of eligibility still remaining, Russell can already move to fifth on Georgia Southern's all-time sack list if he can record one sack against the Crimson Tide. He's made 19, and has 40 career tackles for loss.
"He's a good player. Very aggressive, very quick, explosive guy," said UA coach Nick Saban. "He plays inside quite a bit and is a good pass rusher."
For the season, Russell (6-2, 290 pounds) has made 43 tackles for the Eagles with five sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss, leading the team in the latter two categories. On a 9-1 team, Russell has been a catalyst for one of the top rush defenses in the Southern Conference. The Eagles have allowed 123 rushing yards per game.
"He's probably going to be as good as most guys we played against this year," Vlachos said. "He looks really good on film."
Saban said he considers both Russell and GSU's other interior defensive lineman, Blake Riley, to be a significant challenge.
"Both their inside guys are really inside guys are really good players, probably SEC-caliber players," Saban added.
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com or at 205-722-0196.