Sam Webb: First things first. How did the offseason go for you?
James Ross: "It went real well for all of us as a team. Getting better, getting stronger, faster, coming together more as a team."
Sam Webb: You look bigger. Do you weigh more or is it just distributed better?
James Ross: "I think it’s just distributed better. I lost a lot of fat, you know. Gained a lot of muscle. We all worked hard. As a team, we lost a lot of fat and all that type of stuff."
Sam Webb: Last year you hit the ground running. You were on the field right away so you obviously started out well. But what are you better at now? How have you improved since last year at this time?
James Ross: "Well, I’m more vocal… communicating while I’m out there. Not just knowing what I need to do but what other guys need to do. And just being able to know the calls better in the box."
Sam Webb: Is that something you took upon yourself or did they challenge you to do that?
James Ross: "I think it was more of the coaches’ challenge [to] know more calls and be more responsible on defense."
Sam Webb: Alright. So you slide into to that [weak-side linebacker] spot. You have Desmond Morgan to the side over there. You guys the elder statesmen; [the] most experienced guys and yet you’re still young. Talk to me about that. You’ve got a lot of upper classmen on defense. Was it a challenge to you a sophomore to try to step up and lead some of those guys on defense?
James Ross: "Yeah, it’s a real challenge. But just looking at how Desmond did it last year and how he was able to do it as a sophomore. Lead the defense in the ways he could. It’s challenging but I can see that I can do it. We’re all getting together and we’re all leading in some type of way."
Sam Webb: Coach Smith was saying you guys lost some experience but he thinks you’re faster [and] a little more athletic. Do you guys on the field kind of see it that way too?
James Ross: "Yeah, I feel like we’re a lot faster on defense. And we did lose some experience but I feel like being younger and being wild, you’re just making mistakes at 100 miles an hour. I think they’d be okay with it but as long as you don’t give up a touchdown. (Laughing)."
Sam Webb: So I heard Brady talking about one of your boys, Royce [Jenkins-Stone], really stepping up. Talk to me a little more about what you’ve seen from Royce.
James Ross: "Oh, yeah. Royce has really been stepping up in camp. He’s been doing very well. Really good with the calls [and] really good with the stuff the coaches tell him to do. So he’s been stepping up in camp."
Sam Webb: Alright. Now, you see the running backs from a different perspective. You’ve got to tackle those guys. So far,when you’ve looked a [Fitzgerald Toussaint] have you seen any signs of any ill effect from the injury he suffered last year?
James Ross: "He’s been doing very well here in camp. I haven’t seen anything. He’s been challenging me. Me and him have battles throughout the camp. So I haven’t seen anything. He’s been doing pretty good."
Sam Webb: Alright. Now, what about the interior line? They’re all new guys there; different center [and] guards. What about them? How have they done? What has it been like facing them?
James Ross: "I know they all have been working really hard. We’ve been having nice collisions and stuff like that. But they’ve all been doing really good."
Sam Webb: Now I know you’re not scared of anyone on the football field… I understand that. But when you see a guy coming down the alley, one of those big linemen, which one don’t you want to see the most?
James Ross: "I wouldn’t say that I don’t want to see the most, but who I probably need to get to make something happen with is probably Chris Bryant. He’s got a lot of pop to him. I’ve got to get ready to hit him."
Sam Webb: (Laughing) Alright. So, I know it’s all about the team goal. You guys are looking to win the Big Ten title and maybe more. But individually, what do you expect from yourself this season?
James Ross: "This season, I just need to be more of a leader, be more vocal. I know being a sophomore it’s difficult but I feel like I’m a younger guy. But just being able to do my job, not mess up, and take care of my role and that way people can look at me and take care of their role too."