He was on board, then he wasn’t, and now he is again and Longhorn coaches couldn’t be happier. This time Texas has a firm commitment from San Antonio Sam Houston’s Quincy
Russell and in the process they have a second defensive tackle in the 2011
recruiting class. Russell comes with a ton of potential and a seemingly
immeasurable ceiling as a prospect.
The 6-foot-3, 290-pound Russell was offered by the Longhorns during the Feb. 13 Junior Day and while he didn’t commit that day, he did eventually give the Texas coaches a verbal commitment in April after visiting for the spring game. Less than 24 hours later Russell was back on the market but after nearly three months of looking around Russell came back to the Longhorns and officially went down as commitment No. 22 in the class.
A two-time All-District defensive tackle and an All-District basketball player at Sam Houston, Russell received more than 20 offers before picking the Longhorns for good. Texas beat out Big 12 foe Baylor for Russell’s commitment while Nebraska, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were schools in the running in addition to offers from the likes of Auburn, Florida State, Notre Dame, North Carolina and many others.
I’ve had the chance to meet with Russell face-to-face on a few occasions and I’ve also studied extensive film from his junior season. Russell may not be a complete player now, but there’s no telling how good he might be by the time he leaves Austin judging from what I saw.
What I Liked:
There’s no doubt that Russell is one of the most purely athletic defensive tackles in the last few classes in Texas. He plays AAU basketball and was first discovered by the Sam Houston coaches running sprints in middle school, and the athletic ability shows in a big way on the football field and is no doubt his best tool.
He’s a got a really good first step and while isn’t as elite as someone like Ashton Dorsey or Desmond Jackson in that category, he still explodes into the line of scrimmage off of the snap of the ball. It’s actually impressive to see him work against smaller, quicker lineman at the Class 3A level because he’s still able to beat those types off of the line and get into the backfield.
His feet are outstanding and as impressive as he is getting up the field he’s equally as good laterally. He does a really good job being able to stick his foot in the ground and change direction quickly. With his speed he’s also great in pursuit and has shown that he can make plays when trailing.
The speed and quickness he shows are as good as you will find. In terms of being a pure athlete, Russell at his best is every bit as good as Taylor Bible or Jamarkus McFarland were at any point in their high school careers, but he’s more similar to current Texas defensive tackle Kheeston Randall in terms of athleticism.
Russell has shown that he’s got the ability to feel things and adjust himself accordingly. He’s shown that he’s able to squeeze down and blow up the trap block and can also string things to the sideline on stretch plays another slow developing runs and then attack at the right time because of his quickness.
With his size and athletic ability he could do so many things for a defense. He looks like a natural fit as a three-technique but he can also slide down and eventually be able to play some one-technique or be a zero-tech nose or a two-tech to hold when he really hits the weight room in college.
In short, Russell looks like a guy that has all of the tools to be an impact player at the college level at a place like Texas.
Areas for Improvement:
The downside to Russell (if you want to call it that) is that I think he’s going to need a year or possibly two before he’s ready to be a major contributor because he’s so raw. Athletically it’s all there for him – he’s just got to put it all together and really hit the weight room.
Most high school linemen play high but Russell’s pad level is consistently very high which makes his production even more impressive because he’s still able to get the job done despite showing bad technique.
He also needs to learn how to use his hands. He’s going to have to learn how to hit and separate to disengage from a blocker and be active with his hands to keep linemen out of his breast plate and be able to hold his ground.
I said that he feels things well and there are times where he does, but he still finds himself sprinting into the backfield and running himself out of plays. He’s a much better football player when he reads and reacts because his athletic ability can take over once he’s in the right position.
Another thing that I think will help is once his focus is exclusively on football and not two sports is when he should start to blossom.
My Grade for Russell: B
I’m not as high in terms of rankings/ratings on Russell as others because he he’s a long way from playing his best football. That being said, I also recognize that he has as much upside as any prospect in the state of Texas in the class of 2011.
To maximize his ability he’s going to have to work hard day in and day out and give all he has to being the best football player he can be. If he can do that, with his athletic ability, there’s no reason why he couldn’t become a good player and possibly an exceptional player by the time his career as a Longhorn is over.
I truly feel that if Russell can get the most out of his talent and buy into the strength program and also what a defensive mastermind like Will Muschamp wants him to do, when we look back in four or five years from now Russell could be one of the best five to ten prospects to emerge from this in-state class.