Russell Okung Helps Summer Meal Program
A film by the Seattle Seahawks
Offensive Tackle of the Seattle Seahawks
He may seem quiet, but at 6-foot-6 and just over 300 pounds, left tackle Russell Okung’s performance on — and off — the field is anything but. Chosen sixth overall by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2010 NFL Draft, Russell has earned his way to a Pro Bowl and two Super Bowl appearances, claiming a victory and the World Champion title in 2014 — and he’s just getting started.
Born to Nigerian immigrants Victor Okung and Dorothy Akpabio and raised in Houston, Texas, 26-year-old Russell has always been a protector. That’s how he got his nickname “Big Daddy,” after all — when his father passed in 1992, Russell took on the role of man of the house, determined to work hard for his family, and for his future.
Russell always had a passion for sports — soccer, baseball, basketball — and loved football, even though his lanky frame wasn’t built for the game. But that all changed when he grew from a 6-foot-1, 200-pound freshman to a 6-foot-6 junior who’d packed on 50 extra pounds and his career in the sport started to shape up.
By the end of his senior year at George Bush High School, the offensive tackle had been named first-team All-Greater Houston, first-team all-district and the 33rd best offensive tackle prospect of the class of 2006. By graduation, Russell had offers from Big 12 giants Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and powerhouses Nebraska and Louisiana State.
Russell went with the Cowboys of Oklahoma State and after gaining an additional 50 pounds, quickly became one of the best left tackles in the game. His first big break came against Kansas, when he moved into the starting lineup — a position he held for the rest of the season for eight-straight starts, which landed him a spot on Sporting News’ All-Big 12 freshman team and the Dick Bogert Award as Oklahoma State’s top freshman.
As a sophomore, he started all 13 games, and gained honorable mention All-Big 12 honors and a spot on Rivals.com’s All-Bowl Team roster after holding the NCAA sack leader without a tackle in the Cowboys’ 2007 Insight Bowl victory.
His junior year, Russell led the Cowboys with 71 knockdown blocks and an impressive 34-straight starts — the longest active streak on the Cowboys. He was named a first-team All-Big 12 selection, then to Pro Football Weekly’s All-America Team after once again holding the NCAA sack leader without a tackle in a game against Texas A&M for the second time in his college career.
His graduating year, Russell was named No. 1 on Rivals.com’s preseason offensive tackle power rankings, and Sports Illustrated projected the senior as the top tackle in the 2010 NFL Draft. Forty-seven-straight starts later, Russell wrapped up his career as a Cowboy with a Jim Parker Trophy and a trip to the 2010 Cotton Bowl Classic, and was named Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year in addition to first-team All-Big 12.
Russell in the NFL
Regarded as one of the best offensive tackles available in the 2010 NFL Draft, Russell was drafted sixth overall by the Seattle Seahawks, making him the highest Oklahoma State pick in over 20 years and the second-ever offensive lineman from the Cowboys to be drafted in the first round.
Russell signed a six-year, $48 million contract with the Seahawks on Aug. 6, 2010, with $29 million guaranteed. Russell made his NFL debut in the Seahawks’ fourth game against St. Louis after suffering high-ankle sprains early in the season, which he unfortunately battled for most of his rookie year.
In 2011, a healthy Russell started the first 12 games in the regular season before tearing his pectoral muscle in a game at Philadelphia, ending a successful year in which he helped running back Marshawn Lynch shatter a club record, scoring at least one touchdown in 11 consecutive games.
2012 was Russell’s first healthy year — he started all 15 regular season games, and both playoff contests, earning him a starting position in the 2012–2013 Pro Bowl alongside his offensive teammates Max Unger, Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson. Russell finished the season widely regarded as one of the top left tackles in the league, helping running back Marshawn Lynch to yet another career-defining year for the Seahawks.
In 2013, Russell helped lead his team to the NFC Championship, where the Seahawks defeated San Francisco in one of the most thrilling games of the season and clinched their place in the Super Bowl against Denver. The Seahawks won 43–8 in the first Super Bowl victory in franchise history.
The 2014 season finished with Russell being named to the 2015 Pro Bowl alternative roster and yet another NFC Championship secured — this time over Green Bay in one of the greatest comebacks in recent NFL memory. Two consecutive Super Bowl appearances almost led to two consecutive Super Bowl rings, but the Seahawks came up just short in the final moments of the game, leaving Russell determined as ever for to make a third appearance in 2016.
Russell in the Community
Described by those who know him best as outgoing, intelligent, caring and full of integrity and strong Christian values, it’s no surprise Russell is not only a beloved teammate, but an extremely involved individual in the community. His work with Seattle non-profit Vision House — a Christian social service agency that provides housing, support services and childcare for homeless families and those recovering from substance abuse — is just one example of Russell’s contribution to charities throughout the city.
Russell has a passion for helping others, and cares especially about civil issues and education among minorities and at-risk youth. His non-profit, Greater, is geared toward intentional mentoring and leadership development that will equip the next generation with tools to succeed. Russell hopes that through systematic and institutional change, the Greater movement will break the cycle of at-risk youth and create a new class of global citizens that are built and equipped to grow through their circumstances with personal responsibilities to their communities and the world.
Russell Beyond Football
Russell holds a degree in marketing from Oklahoma State’s Spears School of Business, and after receiving some real-world experience through internships and job shadows at major corporations such as Microsoft, Starbucks and the Tampa Bay Lightning, is currently working toward a masters in business administration from the University of Miami School of Business.