Monday, May 9, 2011

Commit Number 8: Brandon Russo

The US Hockey Report says that Indiana Ice defenseman Brandon Russo has committed to play for Penn State starting this fall.


Indiana Ice (USHL)
5'8", 163 pounds
Fairfield, CT

USHL Player Page

Season   Team                   Lge    GP    G    A  Pts  PIM

2009-10  Salisbury Crim Knights Prep   47   23   30   53   26
2010-11  Youngstown Phantoms    USHL   14    1    7    8   14
2010-11  Indiana Ice            USHL   37    1   15   16   41

If you tried to click on the link above, you probably noticed it was behind a pay wall. Now, normally, I have the utmost respect for that procedure, with people trying to make a living, etc. But because I signed up just to read what they had to say and feel cheated...
Indiana Ice (USHL) 5’8”, 170 lb. defenseman Brandon Russo has committed to Penn State and will be heading there this fall.

Russo, a 3/26/92 birthdate from Fairfield, Conn., is a 2010 graduate of the Salisbury School.
Yep, other than a couple paragraphs of background that you already know, that's it. Someone inform me what's said there that I couldn't have figured out eventually from the free-to-see headline "Russo to Penn State."

As you can see, he spent last season in the USHL, splitting his time between Youngstown and Indiana. Following a December 8th trade to the Ice, he served as a key component (his combined stats make him the second-highest scoring defenseman on the team) on a 37-19-4 team that included commitments to Miami, New Hampshire, Boston University, Minnesota-Duluth and Notre Dame. Not bad at all.

While in prep school, he impressed a blog called College Hockey Recruit Exchange, who rated him as the No. 7 prospect east of the Great Lakes in 2008, on the list with guys like Stephen Johns, Connor Brickley and Brandon Saad. Again, not bad at all. He was also an honorable mention on that site among all 1992s. I mentioned a couple names on the first list, but if you take a look for yourself, you'll note that he's in pretty solid company.

Accordingly, Russo brought home his share of honors, including being named a New England prep all-star. He was on teams that won the New England prep championship and the New England U18 midget championship.

Russo also played with the Mid-Fairfield Blues, whose notable alumni include Max Pacioretty.

Concern number one, I would have to think, is his size. But speaking as a huge fan of the undersized (Pat Verbeek, Nathan Gerbe, Andy Miele), I'm here to tell you that he'll be just fine. Then again, those guys are all forwards. Still, performance is what matters to me, and also according to Russo in this 2010 profile, it's also what matters to the schools recruiting him: Nebraska-Omaha, Yale, Harvard, Army, Union, Colgate...and Princeton (now it all makes sense). Nice list, I'm going to assume that he does okay in the classroom. And the fact that Dean Blais was also sniffing (in addition to Gadowsky) tells me that he's a good fit for the up-tempo style both coaches deploy.

Also from that link, we learn that Russo sees his strengths as "great vision, great first pass out of zone [and a] heavy shot," and his weaknesses as "over [handling] puck in neutral zone [and] endurance."

Sounds like a great fit - welcome to Penn State Brandon!

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