Ross hopes to stand out in OU backfield
NORMAN, Okla -- Alex Ross was one of the buzz-worthy names for Oklahoma during the Sooners’ preseason preparations last August. The true freshman was making noise as a player who could play himself out of a redshirt season despite OU’s depth at running back.
That didn’t happen.
The 2012 season came and went without Ross stepping on the field. Yet the redshirt freshman wasn’t too disappointed.
“I kind of knew I was going to redshirt when I got here,” Ross said.
A stellar prospect with excellent speed and good size at 6-foot-1, 217 pounds, Ross understood why he was redshirted. Juniors Damien Williams, Brennan Clay and Roy Finch were in line to get the bulk of the carries, leaving nothing more than potential spot duty for Ross. And limited action wasn’t worth losing a full year of eligibility.
Still, it was a struggle to watch from the sidelines.
“It was kind of tough sometimes,” Ross said. “Every day I came out to practice knowing I wasn’t going to play. I just still tried to make the other guys who were playing better by just going hard. That was the only thing I could do.”
He hopes to do more in 2013. But his road to getting playing time hasn’t gotten any easier. Williams, Clay and Finch return and coach Bob Stoops said he expects true freshman Keith Ford to play this season.
Five different running backs, limited opportunities.
“It’s not that hard, you’re just working hard,” Ross said of competing with so many different backs. “We’re all just out there working. So regardless of how many people it is we’re all there for the same reason. We want to get better for the team.”
Fortunately for Ross, Stoops has singled him out as a top performer after at least one scrimmage this August and has plenty of praise for the No. 70 player in the Class of 2012.
“I’m excited about Alex,” Stoops said. “He’s physical and a big guy and he can run. Watching him out there now, there are fewer mistakes and he’s getting comfortable and knows what to do.”
Additional weight and an belief that he belongs are key traits Ross added during his redshirt season. Last season, he was hopeful he belonged. This season, he knows he does.
“I probably just wasn’t as confident as I am this year because I was just young and I didn’t know what I was doing out there,” Ross said. “This year is different because I’m older and just trying to get better. I just got more practice, more carries, knowing what I am doing, just getting better than last year.”
And he’ll need to be if he hopes to see a bulk of carries in a loaded OU backfield.
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Final Washington State 45 Colorado State 48 Final 20 Fresno State 20 25 USC 45 Final Buffalo 24 San Diego State 49 Final Tulane 21 Louisiana-Lafayette 24
Final Pittsburgh 30 Bowling Green 27 Final Utah State 21 23 Northern Illinois 14
Final Marshall 31 Maryland 20 Final Syracuse 21 Minnesota 17 Final Brigham Young 16 Washington 31
Final Rutgers 16 Notre Dame 29 Final Cincinnati 17 North Carolina 39 Final Miami (FL) 9 18 Louisville 36 Final Michigan 14 Kansas State 31
Final Middle Tennessee 6 Navy 24 Final Ole Miss 25 Georgia Tech 17 Final 10 Oregon 30 Texas 7 Final 14 Arizona State 23 Texas Tech 37
Final Arizona 42 Boston College 19 Final Virginia Tech 12 17 UCLA 42 Final Rice 7 Mississippi State 44 Final 24 Duke 48 21 Texas A&M 52
Final Nebraska 24 22 Georgia 19 Final UNLV 14 North Texas 36 Final Iowa 14 16 LSU 21 Final 19 Wisconsin 24 9 South Carolina 34 Final 5 Stanford 20 4 Michigan State 24 Final 15 UCF 52 6 Baylor 42
Final 13 Oklahoma State 31 8 Missouri 41 Final 12 Clemson 40 7 Ohio State 35