From the minute I stepped onto the campus for camp, I really had a connection to the place, Ross said. The campus was great and it was really diverse. It's a place like home for me. Coach Edsall, Coach Stewart and Coach Locksley really made a good push to get me and that was a great feeling for me, that these coaches really wanted to have me on their team. It felt pretty good.
Ross, who is listed as 5-foot-11, 180-pounds, will get to play on the same team as his brother, Brandon Ross, a redshirt freshman who is expected to compete for the starting tailback position this fall.
It wasn't the biggest factor but it certainly had a little bit of pull, Ross said on playing with his brother. I understand that you have to be your own man. It certainly was a big factor, but it wasn't the biggest factor for me.
Ross has been labeled an athlete, but was recruited by Maryland to play the cornerback position. He said that his ability to play so many different positions is a strength that he can bring to the Terps.
I always try to strive for above the standards and I'm very versatile, Ross said. I can play defensive back, I can play wide receiver, I can play running back. I even play a little quarterback if you want. I'm a very versatile player and I'm interested in getting settled in with the program and I think I can bring a lot to this team.
The native of Wilmington, Del. also considers his zone coverage one his strengths. He prides himself on getting to his spots, confusing the quarterback and mixing it up at the line of scrimmage. He looks up to the veteran safety Ed Reed of the Baltimore Ravens and Darrelle Revis, the cornerback of the New York Jets.
Ed Reed is a guy who flies around and likes to mix it up in the run game, Ross said. He has great awareness of his surroundings and he covers most the field very well. And Darrelle Revis, I admire his attitude and his tenacity, his ability to get after it and mix it up in the run game as well and plays lockdown zone. He locks down people and I like that.
While Ross is excited about coming to Maryland, where he plans on studying business management or criminal justice, he has not lost his focus for his upcoming senior season at the Charter School of Wilmington, when his coach has told him that he will be playing the free safety position. Ross runs track in the spring to work on his speed. In the summer, Ross spends his Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays lifting in the weight room to get stronger and works on speed training on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
I've been working a lot more on my man coverage, locking down, seeing the field, Ross said. I need to work on my man coverage. It's there, but it does need a little bit of work.
Ross decided to become a Terp after gathering interest from many prestigious schools, including Georgia, Notre Dame, South Carolina, USC, Oregon, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin, according to Ross. He was offered by West Virginia and Boston College.
Maryland just felt like a great home for me, said Ross. Not only do I live close to there, my relationship with the coaches drove me in. Distance was also a little bit of a factor. I was getting some good looks from the University of Southern California and Oregon. They were showing a lot of love at the time, but I didn't want to be all the way out there. I've been around the East Coast area all my life and working close to my family is what I really want to do.
Ross was able to attend the Terps' 21-45 loss to Notre Dame at FedExField in Landover, Md. this past season and experienced being part of the fan base that will be cheering him on when he arrives in 2013.
The fan base is strong, really strong, especially with the new pride uniforms, the whole thing Coach Edsall has going on with the Maryland pride, said Ross. The fans really bought into that system and it seems very strong. It's starting to come up. I saw a lot in that game. The uniforms are very creative. Kevin Blank, [CEO of Under Armour], has done a great job with mixing up combinations and doing different things, again, trying to get that fan base back. It's paying off, they're very good.
One of the biggest factors in Ross' decision to play for the Terrapins was his relationship with the coaching staff, which he said is great and that they get along very well.
We get along very well, said Ross. I kind of know what they think about me, they know what I think about them. It's great. Me and Coach Hull, the wide receivers coach, we have a great relationship. He comes up to my school a couple times to see me. Coach Stewart, Coach Stewart and Coach Locksley, these guys really know about me and they care about how I feel. Sometimes they'll go out and talk to me about what's been going on with my family life and my social life. The relationship is great.
Ross admits that Maryland's defense under Brian Stewart, the defensive coordinator, is much more complex than the defense that he plays in at Charter, where he totaled 55 tackles, four interceptions, three pass deflections, two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles while contributing on offense too, according to Ross. He said that Stewart often mixes up the coverages and throws a lot of blitzes and different looks at different teams, whereas the defense at Charter is more simple and basic as there are many student-athletes who join the program who have never played football before, according to Ross. Despite the increased complexity, he does not feel that he will have a hard time fitting into the Terps' defense.
I feel like I should be able to fit in very well, Ross said. My trainers are very good at teaching the basics of football and teaching that you have to be a student of the game. You got to go through a lot of different looks and look at the playbook, just being a student of the game.
Another reason why Ross is excited about joining the Terps is that he will be able to use Maryland's athletic facilities, which he had visited in his past visits to the campus.
The athletic facilities are awesome, Ross said. They really did a great job with the weight room. It's a great place to be with the guys. And the new turf field they've got going on, getting ready for the season. I expect the field to be great. The athletic facilities really impressed me.
Ross understands that it will be a large leap from high school to college, but exhibits maturity in understanding the need to be responsible in the new environment.
You're your own man now, Ross said. You got to be you. In high school, your parents are back at home. In college it's all you now.