Russell, 33, a former player and assistant coach at Mooreville High School, has been tabbed to replace the state's all-time winningest baseball coach, Rex Berryman, who stepped down this month after 38 seasons, 1,065 victories and eight state championships with the Troopers.
"I'm kind of excited and kind of nervous," Russell said. "Those will be some tough shoes to fill. It's going to be a challenge, one that will keep me on my toes."
Berryman, who said he was not involved in the hiring process, said he is excited for his former player and assistant.
"I got lucky at Mooreville," he said. "We had good players come through and it seemed to work well. I wish the same for Jamie.
"When I retired I wanted to leave a good group. I believe I've done that."
Russell's hiring was approved Tuesday by the Lee County school board.
He returns to Mooreville after three seasons as head baseball coach at Ripley. Prior to his stint in Tippah County, Russell was an assistant coach seven seasons for Berryman. He was also head football coach his final four years in Mooreville.
"They gave me a chance at Ripley and I've enjoyed my time there," Russell said. "This was a tough decision.
"I didn't know if Coach Berryman was going to retire, but I thought it would be a good opportunity for me if he did."
Russell, a former ICC player and Mississippi State graduate, is definitely familiar with the Troopers' baseball tradition and Berryman's system. He was a pitcher on two state championship teams - 1992 and '94 - and an assistant on three others - 2001, '02 and '05.
"You don't want to change much," Russell said. "You can't argue with success.
"I know the system. It's pretty much the same as mine. There will be some changes in personalities and people, but a lot of things will be the same ... a lot of things I've done at Ripley."
Ripley finished the 2010 season with a 12-11 record. Russell's three-year record was 43-38 and included two appearances in the state playoffs. Last season, Ripley lost to Mooreville in the first round while in 2008 the Tigers reached the state semifinals.
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593 or firstname.lastname@example.org