Quincy Russell

Longhorns snakebitten along the line

For each Casey Hampton, there’s an Andre Jones. For each Shaun Rogers, there’s a Derek Johnson. For every Lamarr Houston, there’s a Quincy Russell.

At least, that’s the way it seems these days at Texas, which can either be referred to as DT-U, or DT-Boo.

In all, there are five former Longhorn defensive tackles playing in the professional ranks. There are also six since 2007 whose careers haven’t panned out exactly as planned.

2007: Andre Jones — A top defensive tackle in the country, Jones spent more time in jail (five days) than he did on the field (not one snap) after being charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon during a holdup in late summer of 2007. Jones was suspended by Mack Brown after the burglary — one of his cohorts was then-safety Robert Joseph — and eventually dismissed from the program.

2007: Tyrell Higgins — Played for Texas, left Texas, played for Texas, left Texas. Higgins’ roller coaster of a Longhorn career came to an end in December when he left the program with one year of eligibility left. He originally signed in 2007, but left the next spring because of personal reasons. He came back in 2008 as a walk-on and re-earned his scholarship. Perhaps he didn’t play as much as he would have liked last fall, because he left school again.

2008: Jarvis Humphrey — One of the sadder stories in recent memory, Humphrey came to school as a highly regarded tackle with an opportunity to play quickly. But a strange kidney condition forced him to sit out a year and a half before he ultimately withdrew from the program.

2009: Derek Johnson — The out-of-state recruit from Arkansas transferred back home to Arkansas State University after a year because of family issues. “I recently had a little boy who was born premature,” Johnson told the Jonesboro Sun in July 2010. “I’m moving back home where my family can help.”

2010: Taylor Bible — Well, at least Bible is still on the team. He’s just not the guy the Longhorns thought they were getting, at 310 lbs, which is 50 lbs (!) higher than his reported weight as a high schooler. The jury is still out on him after a redshirt year, but Bible is running out of chances to make an impact.

2011: Quincy Russell — Tuesday’s news that the Sam Houston High School product failed to qualify at UT and will attend junior college ensures that, for the fifth straight year, something goes wrong for the Longhorns at the defensive tackle position.

Read more about Quincy Russell here.

Quincy Russell talks to reporters in the halls of Sam Houston High School on Feb. 2 for national signing day. Russell failed to qualify academically and will not be at Texas this fall.

Photo Credit: Shereen Ayub | Daily Texan Staff

Almost every year, Texas has a football recruit who fails to qualify for enrollment. Last year, it was Tevin Jackson, who was granted admission a few months ago by the NCAA Clearinghouse. In 2008, Antoine Hicks didn’t make the grade and instead attended TCU, where he is now a starting wide receiver. This time around, it’s San Antonio Sam Houston High School defensive tackle Quincy Russell.

The Army All-American hadn’t been taking classes for the first term of summer school, causing speculation that he may not be eligible for fall competition. Tuesday, Sam Houston head coach Gary Green told Orangebloods.com that Russell had in fact failed to qualify and that he would be looking to enroll at a junior college. Green also said that Texas might still be interested in Russell in a few years as a JUCO recruit.

It’s a sad turn for Russell, who was in line to be the first major college football player out of Sam Houston since Green became coach.

“I couldn’t be more proud,” Green told The Daily Texan on national signing day in February. “I told Quincy last year, ‘You’re going to be the first.’ I knew he was going to be great.”

Rivals.com ranked Russell as the No. 11 DT in the country, and the 6-foot-3, 289-pounder possessed abilities as both a run-stopper and a pass-rusher.

Of all the incoming recruits not named Malcolm Brown, Jaxon Shipley or Quandre Diggs, this might have been the one guy Texas could not have afforded to lose. In seven losses in 2010, the Longhorns were gashed for an average of 188 yards on the ground and saw eight rushers eclipse the 100-yard mark. The run defense was already looking like the team’s weak spot heading into this season, with Kheeston Randall looking like the only sure thing at defensive tackle. Russell was a heavy Texas target, and one of just two tackles signed in the 2011 class — with Desmond Jackson being the other.

With Russell failing to qualify, here’s a look at who will be needed to contribute big minutes at the defensive tackle rotation this season:

Kheeston Randall, 6-5, 295 lbs. — A shoe-in to start.

Ashton Dorsey, 6-2, 295 lbs. — The roster says he’s 6-foot-2, but he looks a few inches shorter than that. Regardless, Dorsey did receive strong reviews from the coaches during spring practices, and is the likely second starter.

Calvin Howell, 6-4, 290 lbs. — After redshirting in 2009, Howell saw limited action in 2010, with just two total tackles on the year. But the future could be bright for the former member of the Rivals’ 100 if he gets more playing time.

Greg Daniels, 6-5, 270 lbs. — Coaches hope that Daniels, a converted defensive end who redshirted last year, can make the sort of transition Lamarr Houston did when he went from outside to inside.

Desmond Jackson, 6-1, 278 lbs. — The luxury of redshirt year would have been nice for the incoming tackle, but he now might be forced into action.

Others to Keep an Eye On:

Taylor Bible, 6-3, 310 lbs. — It has been a watch-and-wait year for Bible, who came to Austin highly regarded and, to the disappointment of the coaching staff, highly out-of-shape. He was actually expected to contribute a bit last year, but wasn’t conditioned well enough to see the field, resulting in a redshirt season.

De’Aires Cotton, 6-4, 295 lbs. — Yet another redshirt, Cotton was a member of the three-tackle 2010 recruiting class, but has been a bit of a forgotten name under the shadows of Dorsey and Bible. But Texas will take all the help it can get.

Texas welcomes another top recruiting class this fall, full of players from the Austin, Dallas and Houston areas.

The two major metropolitan areas, plus the state capital, send recruits to the University year in and year out and are usually well represented on the Longhorns’ roster. This year, however, another large city will be well represented in the recruiting class — San Antonio.

“Our city [has] grown quite a bit in the last 10 years,” said Lee Bridges, head football coach at Stevens High School in San Antonio. “There are a lot more good players here than most people think.”

Out of 22 commitments that signed with Texas on Wednesday, three hail from the San Antonio area, a higher number than usual. Malcolm Brown is a five-star recruit from Byron P. Steele High in Cibolo, a small town right outside the San Antonio city limits. Mykkele Thompson was a premier rushing quarterback for Stevens High School in San Antonio. The third San Antonio-area recruit, Quincy Russell, is an agile defensive tackle from Sam Houston High School.

The level of individual performance and team accomplishments has increased over the past 10 years for San Antonio-area schools. Last season, Byron Steele High School won the 5A Division II State Championship.

“This was a great year for San Antonio football,” said Mike Jinks, head coach at Steele. “These kids did a great job ... They did what they needed to do to get a victory.”

The champion athletes at Steele are not an anomaly. The level of athleticism there represents the general level of competition across San Antonio.

“It’s a lot of competition. There’s no football like Texas football,” Brown said. “It’s been a hard run. There [are] so many great teams out there [in the San Antonio area] and just to compete with them makes you that much better.”

While Brown comes from an award-winning program, Quincy Russell may be the spark his school needs to produce more scholarship athletes in the years ahead. Russell became the first football player in the history of Sam Houston and the San Antonio Independent School District to be named a U.S. Army All-American. He is also the first from his school in a long time to go to a university as well-known as Texas. Russell’s scholarship is monumental to a school that faced closure at the beginning of last year.

“We have a lot of young juniors and sophomores that are going to follow in his footsteps,” said Gary Green, head coach at Sam Houston. “He’s a flagship ... he’s the first.”

Aside from an increase in talent level, a general economic boom has seen a large number of immigrants to San Antonio, and more people means more high school students.

“[The] San Antonio area has really grown leaps and bounds over the last four or five years,” Jinks said. “I know that we have signed 34 guys to Division 1 scholarships [this year from San Antonio] ... if you looked back 5 or 10 years ago then that just wasn’t there.”

Expect many more recruits out of the San Antonio area in years to come. This region is a hotbed of individual talent that is fueled by intense coaching and high levels of competition. Who knows, maybe the next Tyler Rose will be a San Antonio native.

SAN ANTONIO — Moments after Quincy Russell signed his letter of intent to play at the University of Texas next season, the Sam Houston High School cheerleaders — all eight of them, along with the Hurricane mascot — began a chant of “Way to go Quincy, way to go!” as his mother, Clarice Russell, fought back tears during what she called “one of the proudest moments of [her] life.”

“I’m so happy that he’ll be taken care of up there and that he’s going to UT, somewhere close so I can get to him,” she said. “It was a long road, but we’re here now so all he has to do is go up and show up.”

Quincy, a 6-foot-3, 289-pound defensive tackle known for his speed, is the first player head coach Gary Green has sent to a major Football Bowl Subdivision program since taking over at his alma mater of Sam Houston High School, a 3A school in east San Antonio.

“I couldn’t be more proud,” Green said. “I told Quincy last year, ‘You’re going to be the first.’ I knew he was going to be great.”

The Yahoo! Sports-affiliated recruiting site Rivals.com ranks Russell as the No. 11 defensive tackle nationwide.

In front of his extended family, Russell signed his letter and faxed it to the Texas athletics department Wednesday morning in a ritual repeated all over the country on national signing day — the first opportunity for current high school seniors to make official where they will play collegiate football.

“I didn’t know my signature meant so much on a piece of paper,” Russell said.

An hour later and 22 miles further north on Interstate Highway 35, running back Malcolm Brown signed his letter of intent as part of a different affair. In the auditorium of Steele High School in Cibolo, a small northeastern suburb of San Antonio, Brown and five of his classmates pledged themselves to play next season for Division I programs.

Steele won the 5A Division II state championship in December and three of its athletes will compete in the Big 12 come fall — Brown at UT, Marquis Anderson at The University of Oklahoma and Ryan Simmons at Oklahoma State University.

“You’re not going to find a better teammate,” said Mike Jinks, Brown’s head coach at Steele. “Texas is getting a pretty special young man.”

About 250 students, coaches and family members packed the auditorium on the frigid Wednesday morning, and another 20 or so members of the media. According to Rivals.com, he is the best running back recruit in the nation and is a consensus top-10 pick across the other two major recruiting services.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Tommy Brown, Malcolm’s father. “I’m just happy with him and his decision.”

Brown was recruited by Duane Akina, former UT defensive backs coach, who left the team this offseason to serve in the same capacity at The University of Arizona. However, the running back never wavered from his commitment — part of the reason he signed early Wednesday morning, instead of waiting like some other recruits.

“I’m ready to just get there and do my part,” Brown said. “Sometimes change is good.”

No matter the fanfare, Wednesday represented the single most important football-related event for hundreds of high school students across the state.

All 22 recruits with verbal commitments to UT signed their letters Wednesday, including four-star defensive back Quandre Diggs and four-star receiver Jaxon Shipley. Others who showed interest in Texas dragged the process along before deciding to play elsewhere, such as defensive end Jermauria Rasco of Shreveport, La., who will be at LSU in August. Overall, of the 30 offers extended by Texas, head coach Mack Brown finished with a little more than 73 percent of his targeted prospects despite some major staff changes since the end of last season.

“I thought they trusted me and our staff to hire the right guys,” Brown said. “Most of those guys didn’t even waver, and I’m really, really proud of that fact.”

Now, with all the excitement of signing day behind them and a full staff ready to begin spring practice, the Longhorns must focus on rebuilding with the pieces they have in place and not what could have been.