CoachSpeak: Scouting Branden Russell

Rutgers received a flurry of verbal commitments going into the second half of its camp schedule. Linebacker Branden Russell committed after earning an offer this week and University School (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) coach Roger Harriott discussed his significance to the program and linebacker skill set.

Rutgers missed out on Skai Moore in last year's recruiting battles, but may have found the 2014 version in new commit Branden Russell. Russell, who committed Wednesday during an unofficial visit, will be Moore's replacement in the University School (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) defense.

Transferring into the program this spring, Russell impressed in workouts as Moore's replacement and will be a key cog on Roger Harriott's defending state champion team.

"We'll use him how we used Skai last year," Harriott said. "He'll be our strong side outside backer. It's been great so far. He had a very impressive spring game and he's going to do very well in that role."

Russell transferred to University School from Flanagan High. Though he never played with Moore or Rutgers incoming freshman Nick Internicola, he brings the same defensive tenacity and athleticism.

"They're very similar athletically," Harriott said. "From a size and speed standpoint and then his presence on the field. He's strong and he has good awareness and a good player overall."

Russell flew under the radar as a junior because of a low level of competition and lack of exposure before transferring to University School. A strong spring piqued the interest of colleges and more offers will come when he starts live action for the program, Harriott said.

Rutgers was the second offer for Russell, who is the third Florida commit in the class.

"It starts with his size and his football IQ," Harriott said. "He's strong academically and he performs on the field. He makes reads very well and he's a strong force on the defense. He has leadership.

Harriott has strong relationships with the Rutgers staff after last year's recruitment of Moore and Internicola. Russell, he said, is a good fit for a Dave Cohen defense and for the ideals Rutgers represents, he said.

"For Rutgers, he is your ideal linebacker," Harriott said. "Coach [Kyle] Flood is big on the intangibles and that's what he brings. Branden is a typical scholar athlete who is trying to surround himself with good people and I think they do a good job of finding players that are good fits for the Scarlet Knights.

"From the moment he came to University School, Rutgers checked him out in the spring and they liked him right away. The only thing was he needed to come visit and they'd offer him. It's great for me. I love what coach Flood is doing."


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