Small-school studs worth watching: Georgia Southern DT Brent Russell
Considered one of the most dominant FCS prospects heading into the 2012 college season, Georgia Southern defensive tackle Brent Russell has spent the majority of his football career in opposing backfields.
Georgia Southern’s own one-man wrecking crew, Russell comes into his senior season with few lingering questions about his abilities as a play-maker and plenty of high expectations.
Throughout the 2011 season, Russell proved to be a constant thorn in the sides of opposing offenses. His dominance was rewarded when he was named as a second-team FCS All-American. Although his 67 total tackles, 6.5 sacks and one blocked kick were impressive, there was one stat that stood out above the rest: his 16.5 tackles for loss.
Put simply, Russell lives in opposing offenses’ backfields. He has the penetrating power that not even double teams can contain and can be found roaming the backfield on almost every play. More often than not, teams are forced to chip block him with backs and often draws triple teams, which also opens holes for other defenders to penetrate through. His swim move is deadly, helping him power past blockers and wreak havoc on the opposing offense’s timing. Many times, Russell manages to find his way behind the line before the play has time to develop, forcing quarterbacks and running backs into tough situations.
At times, however, Russell can take plays off and seems satisfied in a stalemate with his blocker. Especially when he doesn’t get an instant jump on his blocker during passing plays, Russell settles with holding his ground and attempting to clog passing lanes. When the play goes outside, Russell doesn’t offer much in the way of the pursuit but will flatten out and work his way down the line. There were several instances where Russell bit on play action, which can be a downside to his aggressive playing style.
Another concern could arise regarding Russell’s character as the draft draws nearer. The monster defensive tackle has been suspended before for violating team rules, which will grab scouts’ attention. Especially considering how many character issues have hindered small-school prospects as of late, Russell will definitely need to keep his hands clean in 2012.
Although some will question whether Russell’s dominance can continue to the next level, it’s promising to see that this big fish in a small pond is making such a huge impact for his team. He’s consistently seen as the standout talent game in and game out and can be expected to shine on tape on a weekly basis.
As more people begin to take notice of Russell’s overwhelming presence along the defensive line, his draft stock will start to skyrocket. Barring a wretched 2012 season, Russell could hear his name called as early as the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Russell is a man among boys at Georgia Southern and shouldn’t have too much trouble grabbing NFL coaches’ attention in 2012.