Russell took his official visit to Norman, Okla., for the annual Oklahoma-Oklahoma State showdown, and he watched the Sooners rally from an early deficit to win a 51-48 clash of offensive powers. In addition to being completely entertained, Russell saw a Sooners defense that refused to quit.
That refusal of defeat gave Russell stayed in the back of Russell’s mind. Nearly a month later, the 6-foot-4, 308-pound defensive tackle -- ranked No. 51 in the ESPN Junior College 100 -- chose Oklahoma over an offer from Nebraska.
“The game started out kind of boring at first. Oklahoma State was dominating,” Russell said. “But then, OU stepped up and started making plays. Next thing you know, the place was so loud, you couldn’t hear the person next to you.”
That environment -- one that featured 85,824 fans -- was one of Russell’s favorite highlights of all his official visits. He imagined himself on the Oklahoma Memorial Stadium turf on Saturdays. That thought may be a reality sooner than expected, particularly if he plays the way he played at Trinity Valley, a traditional competitor in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference, one of the nation’s top overall juco conferences.
“They’re getting a great young man, first of all,” said Will Reed, the defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator at Trinity Valley. “They’re getting a guy who’s got a great work ethic and a desire to get better and do whatever he has to do to get better. I think they’re getting a great person, above anything than else.”
A former Texas signee, Russell went to Trinity Valley to hone his skills athletically and to also improve academically. On the field, Russell was a first-team all-SWJCFC player this past season, finishing with 75 tackles, two sacks and five pass breakups. The 75 tackles ranked second on the team behind linebacker Davonte McMillian.
With Russell’s commitment, the Sooners now have two big-time pledges at the defensive tackle spot – a position where, six days ago, they had none. Russell will join three-star Kerrick Huggins (Dallas/Skyline), who switched from Texas A&M last week.
“I’d say he helps immediately,” Reed said. “If he comes in with his ability and work ethic that he showed here, he helps them immediately. That’s how highly I feel about him.
“He’s got a pretty good understanding of the game, and he’s got a high motor. With those things alone, he’s going to be a guy who helps their defense and helps them get to the next level.”
Russell is Oklahoma’s 16th commitment of the recruiting class.