NCF On The Trail: John Ross

Signing day primer: Washington 

January, 23, 2013
Team needs: For the 2013 recruiting class, the Huskies tried to add talent throughout their roster. They had specific needs but wanted to bolster strengths as well.

Some of the key areas the Huskies identified as positions to pursue included receiver, running back, linebacker and defensive line. With six defensive linemen committed and three receivers heading to Seattle next season, Washington has stockpiled prospects at each position.

Help is on the way: Washington is pursuing a pass rush. The Huskies have a star in Danny Shelton, but ace recruiter Tosh Lupoi made it a point to bring in top-tier talent along the program’s defensive line.

Weekly Commitment Update 

January, 11, 2013
Ebenezer Ogundeko DE Brooklyn, N.Y./Thomas Jefferson
HT: 6-3 WT: 229
Position Rank: #10 DE

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Jermaine Kelly commits to Washington 

January, 7, 2013
Washington’s weekend recruiting haul spilled into Monday when Jermaine Kelly (Los Angeles/Salesian) gave the Huskies a verbal commitment.

“I felt like this was the place I should be,” Kelly said. “I’ve always had love for Washington. I felt like I had to be there. I had to be at that school. It’s just the right choice for me.”

The 6-foot-1, 171-pound cornerback is the third prospect to join the program’s 2013 class in four days, joining receiver John Ross (Long Beach, Calif./Jordan) and defensive end Joe Mathis (Upland, Calif./Upland).

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Huskies add to haul with John Ross 

January, 4, 2013
When John Ross (Long Beach, Calif./Jordan) was in Seattle for Washington’s Rising Stars Camp last summer, the 5-foot-9, 170-pound athlete said the Huskies made him feel like part of the family.

Whether he was on the field with Troy Williams, the program’s quarterback commit, or spending time with one of his former teammates who currently plays for Washington, Ross knew the Huskies would be a good fit.

His cousin and high school teammate, 2014 receiver Rahshead Johnson, enjoyed the trip to the camp so much he gave the university a verbal commitment before returning to California.

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CARSON, Calif. -- Washington continued its success in mining the Golden State for talent on Friday night, as four-star athlete John Ross (Long Beach, Calif./Jordan) announced his commitment to the Huskies during the 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

Ross kept a low profile during the recruiting process, but the 5-foot-9, 170-pound speedster became one of California’s most sought-after skill position players this past spring and kept that momentum going throughout his senior season. Ross held offers from much of the Pac-12, as well as national programs such as Arkansas, Miami, Michigan and Nebraska.

Ross eventually cut his list to four Pac-12 programs: Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and UCLA. He took official visits to all four, but nothing could top the comfort level he said he felt with the Huskies. He’ll join several former teammates at Washington, and could also be reunited next year with 2014 prospect and teammate Rahshead Johnson, who committed to the Huskies this past summer.

Washington now holds verbal commitments from 21 recruits in the 2013 class, including eight four-star players -- six of whom hail from California. Ross has the ability to play wide receiver or cornerback at the next level and proved throughout his high school career that he can be a dynamic weapon in the return game.

Ross' recruitment could be one to monitor further, as all of his finalists will continue to pursue him until signing day.
The 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl should offer plenty of intrigue on the field when it kicks off Friday at 6 p.m. PT from the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. With some of the top players from across the country in attendance, recruiting fans will have plenty to keep their eyes on over the course of the game.

West quarterbacks vs. East quarterbacks

In all-star games, the quarterback position almost always receives the most attention, and with it, either praise or scrutiny. This year, the position offers some interesting regional twists, with bragging rights on the line. For the West team, representing the Pac-12 will be Jared Goff (Kentfield, Calif./Marin Catholic) and Anu Solomon (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman), committed to Cal and Arizona, respectively. For the East team, and headed to the SEC, are Austin Allen (Fayetteville, Ark./Fayettevills) and Eddie Printz (Marietta, Ga./Lassiter). Allen is headed to Arkansas, with Printz committed to Missouri. Giving the Midwest fans something to watch are Notre Dame quarterback commitment Malik Zaire (Kettering, Ohio/Archbishop Alter), playing for the East squad, and Northwestern commit Matt Alviti (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine Township), who will suit up for the West.

[+] EnlargeMalik Zaire
Erik McKinney/ESPN Quarterbacks are all the rage at all-star games and Notre Dame commit Malik Zaire will have a lot of eyes on him Friday at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.
West S Hatari Byrd vs. East WR Jordan Smallwood

Oklahoma fans could have a chance to see two future Sooners square off as Byrd (Fresno, Calif./Central) and Smallwood (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) could see plenty of each other over the middle on Friday. Adding to the matchup, both Byrd and Smallwood have been terrific during practices this week, each vying for top honors at their respective positions for each of their teams. This will likely be the first of many times these two get a chance to go at each other over the next few years.

West CB Cole Luke vs. East WR William Fuller

Another matchup of future teammates will take place, as Luke (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) and Fuller (Philadelphia/Roman Catholic) will both head to Notre Dame next fall. This Notre Dame recruiting class is very close, and Luke is certainly aware that of the five Fighting Irish verbal commits at this game, he is the only one on the West roster. He’ll want to prove himself against Fuller, who was terrific during practices for the East team.

Washington defensive line commits vs. East offensive line

LSU defensive tackle Christian LaCouture (Lincoln, Neb./Southwest) deserves credit for his performances during practice, but Washington commitments Elijah Qualls (Petaluma, Calif./Casa Grande) and Daeshon Hall (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster) were nearly unblockable all week for the West team. They’ll have a chance to prove themselves when they go up against an East team that had some of its own issues during practices. One matchup of particular interest could be if Hall finds himself set against Notre Dame offensive tackle commit Mike McGlinchey (Philadelphia/William Penn Charter), who was the standout lineman all week for the East.

Pac-12 vs. the country

Players headed to the Pac-12 have a chance to make a strong statement in this game. Not only will the conference likely land two of the players scheduled to announce during the contest, the West team is littered with players headed to the Pac-12, and could be led by a trio of Oregon commitments, in wide receivers Darren Carrington Jr. (San Diego/Horizon) and twins Tyrell Robinson and Tyree Robinson (San Diego/Lincoln). The offensive line features five Pac-12 verbal commitments, while only one wide receiver on the roster--Texas A&M commit Jeremy Tabuyo (Honolulu/St. Louis)--is likely to play his college football outside the conference.

[+] EnlargeChristian LaCouture
Brandon Oliver/ESPNAs solid as LSU DT commit Christian LaCouture is, he has had a hard time blocking the West offensive lineman at Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl practice.
Announcements to be made during Friday's game

• WR John Ross (Long Beach, Calif./Jordan) -- The playmaking receiver has been quiet all year when it comes to recruiting. His recruitment has been a three-team race from the get-go. In reality, the Washington Huskies have always been the one team thought of as the front-runner due to the four-star's ties to the program. Oregon and UCLA have been in the mix and even rumored to be his leader at some point. The dynamic Ross will make his college decision between the three Pac-12 programs during the game on Friday.

• TE Thomas Duarte (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) -- The 6-foot-3, 220-pound TE-Y could play WR, TE, H-Back, LB or DE on the next level but he is best as a big weapon in the slot. His is under-sized as a TE, but athletic enough to play WR in any system. Like Ross, he too was awfully quiet throughout his recruitment. Also like Ross, Duarte is down to Oregon, UCLA and Washington, with Notre Dame also in the mix for the versatile four-star. Most believe it is down to UCLA and Oregon. If that's the case, it means that the unofficial visit he took to Oregon as a junior either resonated so well that he doesn't need to go back for an official visit...or that he is all UCLA.

• RB David Williams (Philadelphia/Imhotep Charter) -- The talented running back will announce his choice between Arizona State, Penn State and South Carolina. The country’s No. 124 player would be a big addition to the Nittany Lions, but strong pushes from the out of state schools have made Williams’ recruitment an interesting one. At 6-foot-1, 192 pounds, Williams can do it all as a tailback and has a chance to be a featured back in any offense. At this point, it is thought that the Gamecocks have the edge.

Updates from Junior Rank 2013 Proving Ground Combine

• Cornerback Naijiel Hale (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) was happy to be back on the football field for the first time since his team was eliminated from the playoffs, as the 5-foot-11, 170-pound cornerback took to the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., on Thursday for the Junior Rank 2013 Proving Ground Combine.

Hale arrived late to the event, so he didn’t run the 40-yard dash, but said he did well in the broad jump and the shuttle.

“It was just good to get out there,” Hale said. “I hadn’t been out on the field in a while, so that felt food.”

Hale was joined by teammates Jaleel Wadood and Shay Fields Jr., and that trio will bring plenty of college coaches out to St. John Bosco this spring. Schools have already been in touch with the standout junior, although none have extended offers thus far.

“I’ve been getting connected with Washington and Northwestern -- just trying to stay connected,” Hale said. “I’ve talked to Utah also. They said they love my film.”

Hale said Oregon and UCLA have been in contact as well, and that he receives e-mails from the Ducks almost daily.

“Washington wants me to come to their junior day in February,” Hale said. “A lot of schools have said they’re going to start picking things up after the 2013 class is over. After that, I’m just ready for it to start.”

• 2015 offensive guard Jake Grant (Scottsdale, Ariz./Horizon) will stay in a hotel after performing at the combine on Thursday. It might be a good idea for him to get used to ordering room service, as the 6-foot-3, 260-pound big man will be on the road plenty over the next few months.

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Semper Fi Day 3: Kamara stands out 

January, 2, 2013
FULLERTON, Calif. -- With the first-day jitters long gone and players beginning to settle into their game-day roles during the third day of practices for the 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, several players continue to jump out with impressive performances. On Wednesday, it was defensive back David Kamara (Loganville, Ga./Grayson) who authored a standout showing.

[+] EnlargeDavid Kamara
Erik McKinney/ESPN.comEast defensive coordinator Shawn Raney said on Day 3 of practice for the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl that David Kamara, right, can play anywhere in the secondary.
“He’s a very athletic kid,” said Shawn Raney, defensive coordinator for the East team. “He understands the game and he catches onto stuff really quickly. He’s mentally sharp and does a nice job.”

During one-on-one action early in the day, Kamara made a terrific play on a deep ball while in coverage against Jordan Smallwood (Jenks, Okla./Jenks). He stuck with the big receiver down the field and knocked the ball away at the last minute. It was a glimpse at his physical ability, and the East coaches have been impressed with his mental capacity as well.

“The first day I let them go where they thought they could play and I watched them move around,” Raney said after Day 3 practice. “Today was the first day where I put them at specific spots, and he’s the type of kid who could play any of them. He’s playing corner and some strong safety for us. He’s athletic enough to be a corner and smart enough to play safety. He has very quick feet and nice, loose hips where he can turn and rotate with receivers. He’s a very good athlete.”

Kamara is the only undecided recruit in the secondary for the East squad, but the 5-foot-10, 175-pound cornerback said he is focusing in on three schools: Clemson, LSU and Mississippi.

A former Clemson commitment, Kamara pulled away from the Tigers in November and wanted to explore his options. He’ll do that later this month, as he has official visits scheduled to LSU on Jan. 11 and Mississippi on Jan. 25. He is trying to set up a visit to Clemson for Jan. 18. Kamara holds offers from Clemson and Mississippi but said LSU is still waiting to offer.

“They told me I was going to have to wait and see because when I committed to Clemson, I wasn’t really talking to them and they got a couple commitments at my position,” Kamara said of LSU. “I have to wait and see, but Coach [Brick] Haley has always been honest with me.”

A.J. Richardson
Brandon Oliver/ESPN.comCal WR commit A.J. Richardson confirmed at Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl practice that he is giving other programs serious looks.
Kamara said he is hoping to have a decision made toward the end of January after he takes his visits.

Newsmaker: Without any real movement on either roster in the recruiting world on Wednesday, the biggest buzz was generated when word began to circulate around the East team about the commitment of four-star running back Tarean Folston (Cocoa, Fla./Cocoa), who is in Orlando, Fla., this week for the Under Armour All-America Game. He makes 12 ESPN 300 commitments for Notre Dame, and with four Fighting Irish verbal commits on the East roster, the news was met with plenty of enthusiasm.

“That circulated pretty fast,” Notre Dame quarterback commit Malik Zaire (Kettering, Ohio/Archbishop Alter) said. “We caught word and we’re very excited to have another running back, especially a great running back. That only makes my job a lot easier.”

Trending: Rumors of possible decommitments were flying around the West team in Sanata Ana, Calif., on the third day of practice for the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

After visiting Duke, Nevada and Boise State, Cal WR commit A.J. Richardson (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne) confirmed that he is giving all three programs a serious look after failing to hear much from Cal's new staff.

Washington OL commit Sean Harlow (San Clemente, Calif./San Clemente) remains committed to the Huskies, but a visit to Oregon State appears to have him thinking about a change of heart.

What's on tap: With walk through and additional game prep scheduled for the Semper Fi game participants on Thursday, the underclassmen will take center stage during the Proving Ground underclassmen combine.

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FULLERTON, Calif. -- Monday marked the first day of practice for Friday’s Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl. While all of the players adjusted to the location and the morning practice time, more than a few hit the ground running at full speed.

For the East squad, the defensive line was slightly undermanned, but that didn’t stop it from getting off to a fast start. More often than not, the player providing the highlight was Chikwe Obasih (Brookfield, Wis./Brookfield Central).

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Four-star WR Ross set to announce 

December, 31, 2012
SANTA ANA, Calif. -- One of the most active players for the West team on the first day of practice for the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl was impressive all day. So much so that he had three future Oregon Ducks in his ear about his upcoming decision.

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WR John Ross recaps Washington visit 

December, 11, 2012
John Ross (Long Beach, Calif./Jordan) never expected to receive this much attention.

The 5-foot-9, 170-pound receiver has been surprised by all of the calls from college coaches and reporters. He knew he was a talented football player, but he recently told his father, "Dad, I didn’t realize I was that big.”

“It’s amazing how fast and how quickly you can develop and your name can just blow up from being nothing to something,” he said. “It’s just a blessing.”

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Weekend Rewind: Washington 

December, 10, 2012
SEATTLE -- With one verbal commitment and eight official visitors, it was a busy weekend for Washington.

While cornerback Daquawn Brown (Los Angeles/Dorsey) was getting a tour of the Space Needle and offensive tackle Na’Ty Rodgers (Pomfret, Md./McDonough) was tweeting pictures of the view from his hotel room, linebacker Azeem Victor (Pomona, Calif./Pomona) was at home in California deciding it was the right time to announce he would play college football for the Huskies. Now that Victor has joined the program's 2013 class, Washington has 20 current commitments.

Brown and Rodgers were joined on their visits by USC commits offensive tackle Nico Falah (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and cornerback Jalen Ramsey (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy).

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WR John Ross not satisfied with season 

November, 7, 2012
John Ross wasn’t ready for it to end.

The 5-foot-9, 170-pound receiver from Long Beach (Calif.) Jordan tried to talk about what it was like to play his final high school football game. He tried to sum up a season that fell short of the playoffs.

John Ross
John Ross
“We didn’t get to make the playoffs,” Ross said. “It went pretty good, just a horrible ending.”

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Dontre WilsonMax Olson/ESPN.comOregon running back commit Dontre Wilson visited the school and saw a victory over Washington.

The Oregon Ducks rolled to another blowout win over the rival Washington Huskies on Saturday night.

The 52-21 victory was a big night for the Ducks on the field, and the program hosted several skill-position players on recruiting visits, highlighted by running back commit Dontre Wilson (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto).

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Thomas Barnes kept asking himself the same question: “Is this real?”

The Long Beach (Calif.) Jordan coach was in Seattle for Washington’s Rising Stars Camp in June with receivers John Ross and Rashead Johnson and, no matter where they went, he was impressed with the people.

“The people in Seattle are just awesome,” Barnes said. “Not just the people at UW, but the people all around Seattle.”

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WR Ross won't rush a decision 

July, 3, 2012
Few players have seen their recruitment increase during the spring and summer months more than John Ross (Long Beach, Calif./Jordan). The 5-foot-9, 170-pound wide receiver received attention from a few schools as a sophomore and held a handful of offers as a junior. But this spring, his offer sheet ballooned to around 25, thanks in large part to a two-week window where he hauled in around a dozen offers.

"Everybody is getting my film now, so I'm getting out there more," said Ross, adding that the deluge of offers came from such schools as Hawaii, Miami, Michigan and Oregon.

This past weekend, Ross had an opportunity to visit Washington -- another school that has offered -- along with teammate and 2014 wide receiver Rahshead Johnson. There was plenty of pull for Ross to commit to the Huskies, as Johnson pulled the trigger during the visit along with seven members of the 2013 class. But Ross is content to take the process slowly, and said he felt no need to end his recruitment.

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