California defensive line commit Russell Ude doesn’t care much about stats. He doesn’t know how many blocks he has. He hasn’t the foggiest idea about his tackle numbers. Tackles for loss? They don’t even register. OK, surely, sacks must pop up on a defensive lineman’s radar, right? Nope. Nada. He doesn’t care.
“I have no clue,” Ude says, frankly. “I’m the starting right tackle right now, so I just play football. I don’t even think about stats and that kind of stuff.”
There is just one stat that Ude cares about, and, while he won’t come straight out and say it, that stat seems to be the reason he waited until the Bears’ season was two-thirds over before publicly announcing his commitment. That stat? Wins.
“I’m just focused on winning football games,” says Ude, and this year, his Westminster squad has done plenty of that.
The Wildcats are 7-1, after going 10-13 over the past two seasons.
One of the keys to Westminster’s season? Ude. Last summer, he was a standout outside linebacker. This year, he’s much more than that.
“I’ve been playing more defensive tackle this year,” says the barrel-chested Ude. “I started out playing defensive end, and I played a lot of strongside defensive end and I was playing some weakside defensive end, and I spent some time at outside linebacker, but now I’m playing more defensive tackle. I’m just kind of doing whatever the coaches need me to do, and I’m not really focused on stats. I’m just focused on winning football games.”
As a 245-pound junior, Ude played stand-up end and outside linebacker, with a lot of burst off the line. He can shed blocks quickly or wait for a play to develop and then explode off his blocker. At 6-foot-3, he uses his long arms to drive back interior linemen and tackles, and can get into passing lanes when he penetrates deep. As a bonus: He plays both out of the 4-3 base and out of some odd-front looks, which means he’ll require very little transition time in learning Cal’s system. What’s most impressive about Ude as an end is that he can get around the outside of a tackle, or swim-move between the tackle and guard to get after the quarterback. He also shows good lateral quickness and space awareness, but, most impressive of all is his patience.
The one part of his game that he needs to work on a bit is his angles. Sometimes he’ll out-maneuver himself and only get a hand on the quarterback, rather than being able to wrap up. That said, the fact that he’s played all along the defensive front – both standing up, in a three-point stance and with both hands in the ground – shows that he has a lot of football IQ. He has also shown good open-field tackling ability when he has to take down a runner. Even more impressive is that he’s able to get off blocks up front and get wide to take down a screen or wheel receiver.
As an offensive tackle, Ude engages with his blockers, keeps his feet moving and uses his hands to great effect – something he does on both sides of the ball.
Above all, Ude is tough, and very, very physical. There was a lot of power in his slimmer frame, and now that he’s bulked up – while still retaining his quickness – he’s that much more imposing as a defensive force.