Private coach for Alabama football QB commit Russell sees big things ahead | Goodbread

It’ll be a couple years before we know how well Kalen DeBoer, from a recruiting standpoint, knows how to pick ’em. But when it comes to quarterbacks, he’s wasted no time showing he knows where to pick ’em.


The Alabama football coach has secured the first quarterback commitment of his tenure at Alabama in Keelon Russell, an uber-talented, wiry kid from the state that’s always been America’s QB hotbed: Texas. A historical list of successful quarterbacks from Texas would fill out the rest of this column, but a shortened one would include Patrick Mahomes II, Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck, Vince Young, and Robert Griffin III. Throw in Sammy Baugh, Y.A. Tittle and Davey O’Brien for generations gone by.

Retired Alabama coach Nick Saban pulled his last starting quarterback, Jalen Milroe, from Texas, so perhaps it’s fitting that it’s where DeBoer’s recruitment of the position has begun. It’s a never-ending procession of passers, and it’s this newer generation of Texas quarterbacks that Brad Stanfield knows best. The private QB coach has worked with a bunch of them, from Texas A&M’s Conner Weigman, to former UT star Sam Ehlinger, to one more familiar to Alabama fans: Milroe. He’s helped refine Milroe’s mechanics since the Alabama fourth-year junior was in the seventh grade.

And he’s been training Russell for a couple years, too.

“For me, I think he’s got more upside than (Longhorns starting QB) Quinn Ewers. Now, Quinn had some different juice on the ball, but after working with him and Hudson Card and Jalen …. you look at Conner Weigman and (Clemson’s) Cade Klubnik,” said Stanfield, who worked with Saban’s first UA support staff beginning in 2007. “With Keelon’s overall game, I think he’s a better prospect than all those guys.”

That’s a mouthful.

Most of those quarterbacks were five-star recruits. Russell (6-3, 185 pounds), of Duncanville High, located southwest of Dallas, is a four-star prospect, although that could change at any point over the next six months. His next chance to shine for the five-star honor will be at the Elite 11 Finals event in Los Angeles, where the nation’s top 20 quarterback prospects will gather to compete June 18-20.

Russell knows plenty about facing tough opposition. Last week, my colleague Blake Toppmeyer chronicled the high level of competition Russell has regularly beaten on his way to two consecutive Texas state championships at the Lone Star state’s highest classification (6A). He will bring quick feet, a quick release and a quicker grasp of offensive concepts to Alabama as a cornerstone of UA’s 2025 signing class. At a program in Duncanville that emphasizes the passing game, Russell completed 72% of his passes as a junior last year for nearly 3,500 yards, 38 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Stanfield expects him to develop more speed at the college level despite a countervailing goal of adding some weight. But when impresses him most is Russell’s combination of intuitive understanding for the position, and determination to improve.

You have the left-brain types, where everything you show them, it’s like working with a pro. They pick up on things so quick, it’s like playing with a great chess player,” Stanfield said. “Others have to grind their way through, but those are the ones with the crazy work ethic. Like Jalen, he had to grind through a lot of reps, but he was a workhorse. His dad was a Marine. He was committed to doing things right. Cade Klubnik was that way, too. Keelon has both qualities. That ability to simplify (mentally), and also maximize every day.

Those would be perfect starting points for any incoming freshman, but for DeBoer’s first full signing class, the coach has planted his quarterback flag with this one.

And chances are, he went to the right state to do it.

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