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Coach for Alabama football QB commit Russell sees big things ahead

It will be a few years before we know how well, from a recruiting perspective, Kalen DeBoer knows how to pick them. But when it comes to quarterbacks, he wastes no time showing he knows it Where to pick them.

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

It is a club that could launch its own Hall of Fame.

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Retired Alabama coach Nick Saban signed his last starting quarterback, Jalen Milroe, from Texas, so perhaps it’s fitting that DeBoer’s recruitment of the position started here. It’s an endless procession of passersby, and it’s this newer generation of Texas quarterbacks that Brad Stanfield knows best. The private QB coach has worked with a number of them, from Texas A&M’s Conner Weigman, to former UT star Sam Ehlinger, to another one familiar to Alabama fans: Milroe. He has helped refine Milroe’s mechanics since the fourth-year junior from Alabama was in seventh grade.

And he has also been training Russell for a few years.

“To me, I think he has more upside than (Longhorns starting QB) Quinn Ewers. Now Quinn had a little bit of a different touch, 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 starting in 2007. “With Keelon’s overall play, I think he’s a better prospect than any of those guys.”

That’s a mouthful.

Most of those quarterbacks were five-star recruits. Russell (6-3, 185 pounds), from Duncanville High, located southwest of Dallas, is a four-star prospect, although that could change at any point in 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 quarterbacks will gather to compete June 18-20.

Russell knows a lot about dealing with tough opposition. Last week, my colleague Blake Toppmeyer described the high level of competition that has consistently defeated Russell en route to two straight Texas state championships in the Lone Star State’s top classification (6A). He will bring quick feet, a quick release and an accelerated understanding of offensive concepts to Alabama as a cornerstone of UA’s signing course in 2025. At a program in Duncanville that emphasizes the passing game, Russell completed 72% of his passes last year as junior for nearly 3,500 yards, 38 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Stanfield expects to develop more speed at the college level, despite the opposing goal of adding some weight. But what impresses him most is Russell’s combination of intuitive understanding of the role and determination to improve.

“You have the left-brain type, where everything you show them, it’s like working with a professional. They pick things up so quickly, it’s like playing with a great chess player,” Stanfield said. “Others have to work their way up, but those are the ones with the crazy work ethic. Like Jalen, he had to do a lot of reps, but he was a workhorse. His father was a Marine. He was determined to do it. It was the same with Cade Klubnik. Keelon has both qualities: the ability to simplify (mentally) and maximize every day.’

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

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

Tuscaloosa News columnist Chase Goodbread is also the weekly co-host of Crimson Cover TV on WVUA-23. Reach him at [email protected]. Follow on X.com @chasegoodbread.

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