Wednesday, December 19th, was the first day 2013 junior college recruits were allowed to sign a letter of intent and with several JUCO prospects on their radar it figured to be an interesting day for OU fans. Fortunately, the news was of the positive variety as multiple reports have indicated that Trinity Valley C.C. defensive tackle Quincy Russell will sign with the University of Oklahoma.
As we've said a number of times here, recruiting can change in a hurry. Just a week ago, Oklahoma fans were reeling after the loss of Justin Manning and a 2013 recruiting class bereft of a single defensive tackle. Now however, the Sooners have received two commitments in the span of less than a week and suddenly OU fans can once again breathe just a little bit easier.
Russell is a guy who originally signed with the University of Texas coming out of high school and was a U.S. Army All-American as well. Oklahoma had recruited him at that time, but ultimately Russell chose to sign with the Horns. However, he failed to quality academically and, like a lot of players, was forced to go the junior college route. For whatever reasons, he and Texas eventually parted ways but Oklahoma always remained in the picture.
As recently as just a couple of weeks ago, Nebraska seemed like the strong favorite to land Russell. It would appear however that Jackie Shipp and the Sooners were able to win him over with their availability for immediate playing time and the opportunity to start from day one following the loss of three senior defensive tackles.
As for Russell as a player, coming from the junior college ranks he obviously has more experience that a high school prospect and will likely be expected to come in and contribute immediately. At 6'4" 308 pounds, he's a wide body guy who can eat up both space and blockers in the middle of the defense. He isn't an exceptional pass rusher from the inside and there has been some issues in the past with respect to his effort as an every down player. But he's a guy who is capable of demanding a double team when he's at his best and this Oklahoma roster was certainly lacking for that type of player when you project the 2013 defensive tackle position could look like.
While this certainly fills a big need for Oklahoma in this 2013 class, do not mistake this commitment as a cure all for the defensive tackle position. Yes, things are (potentially) much better than they were this time last week but as many of us know defensive tackle is one of the most difficult positions to project. So assuming either Russell or Kerrick Huggins, who also committed recently, are guaranteed contributors on this team next year would be optimistic to say the least.
That said, pairing Russell with Jordan Phillips as your likely starting defensive tackle duo could be quite formidable. With a young guys like Jordan Wade and Marquis Anderson behind them things certainly aren't quite as bleak as once believed. Russell filled a huge need in this class if for nothing else than to prevent Oklahoma from having to rely on most of those young guys to contribute significantly next year.
Welcome to Sooner Nation, Quincy!
(Ed. note - Unfortunately, there weren't any of Russell's JUCO highlights available online so I've included an admittedly out of date high school highlight package from a couple years ago. If anything more recent comes to light, we'll be sure to update this post accordingly.)