With academic question marks clearly behind him, 6-foot-7, 305 pound offensive lineman, Michael Cross is finally set for his enrollment at the University of Kentucky.
"I'm all set to go to Kentucky," Cross said. "I'm not looking at any other schools. I never looked anywhere else or thought about anywhere else but Kentucky."
A first-team all-state lineman, as chosen by the Ohio sportswriters, as a senior at Marion-Franklin HS, Cross was placed at Garden City (Kan.) junior college as a freshmen. He experienced near immediate success in the classroom, sporting a GPA of 3.0.
"It's been a good experience," Cross said of his time away, "I met a lot of nice people up here. The football team is real close and it's definitely a family environment. My best friend is here and I met a very nice girl here."
Thanks to his hard-work in the classroom, the Ohio star is set to enroll at UK in January. "Hopefully," Cross said of enrolling at UK in January, "It's looking like January, last time I talked with the coaches, that's what they said."
A four-year starter at Marion-Franklin HS in Columbus (Oh.), Cross is ready to finally get back to playing football, a sport he starred in in high school, playing both sides of the ball.
"I'm definitely looking forward to it. I miss playing," the beastly lineman stated, "Going back home, I'd see all these guys that I played with or against in high school and they are playing, just from a young man's perspective, I feel very greatful for the opportunity at Kentucky."
Prior to heading to junior college for grade issues, Cross played several positions on the offensive and defensive line, including seeing some action at tight end. At the conclusion of the 2004 season, Cross accumulated more than 100 tackles, 32 of which were thrown for a loss.
"It's looking like I'll be playing on the offensive side of the ball," the verbal commitment said of his position at Kentucky. "I talked to one of their assistant coaches about 3 weeks ago and he was saying they really like to put me, there."
"It really doesn't make a difference to me," the junior college standout said. "I just want to be able to play and help the team out as best as I can. It doesn't matter where they put me."
Despite garnering the majority of his accolades on defense, Cross excelled as a senior on he offensive line, blocking for a running back that gained more than 1,400 yards. A member of the all-city and all-district teams, he helped lead Marion-Franklin to a 9-2 record and the first playoff spot in school history.
"Mike is a very hard worker, a co-captain and team leader," Marion-Franklin coach Gary Tucker said about Mike. "A lot of teams tried to double-team him but he would still make tackles. His size and strength are big pluses, and he has pretty good footwork."
"I'm very humble," Cross said. "I'm very much into learning the game. I can take the criticism, especially from the coaches, because I know they just wanna make me a better player and they are trying to help me. I wanna learn everything."
The ability to soak up knowledge and his uncanny size and demeanor, helped make the Kentucky coaching staff role out the red-carpet for Cross on an official visit in December of 2004. It was a decision that at the time was based on the future of the program and the upswing he expected the 'Cats to make.
That decision to take a chance on the Wildcats has looked even smarter with the insurgence of the program the past few months.
"Its been great because most of the guys I play with and are on the team, they are Georgia and Florida players for the most part," Cross said. "Since Kentucky's starting to beat these ranked teams, it's gonna be interesting what happens in the upcoming years. It will be fun to get to play against them."
Mysteriously, Cross played only limitedly at Garden City JC, having rumors abound that he possibly didn't make the 55-man squad, a rule that is monitored very strictly in the Jayhawk Conference.
Despite the fact GCJC is a traditional powerhouse that features a ton of big-name prospects that are placed, Cross cleared up the speculation. "I redshirted here because I had to have surgery on my knee," Cross said.
The knee, for all intensive purposes, appears to be completely healed. The three-year hoops lettermen was playing hoops when an earlier phone call was placed.
"I was shooting with the guys the other day and the basketball coach saw me playing and he said he wanted me to come in and practice with the team," Cross explained. "It's good motivation for me and it helps me get into shape for football, as well as help me get a better feel for being a leader."