When the University of Oklahoma announced earlier this month that running back and kickoff returner Alex Ross would graduate and transfer elsewhere for his final season, it made sense that Missouri would be a logical destination.
The Tigers return just one running back with Division I experience in Ish Witter and struggled last season in running the football and with kick returns. They also have coaches with connections to the Sooners, including new offensive coordinator Josh Heupel.
On Sunday morning, KOMU’s Chris Gervino reported Ross will transfer to Missouri for the 2016 season. A source told Black & Gold Illustrated that Ross has signed a financial aid agreement with the school, but that agreement is non-binding.
A 6-foot-1, 221-pounder from Jenks, Okla., Ross appeared in 36 games, with three starts, in three seasons with the Sooners. He rushed for 786 yards on 123 carries, averaging 6.4 yards per carry, and five touchdowns. He also had 11 catches for 66 yards.
Ross excelled as a kick returner in his final two years at OU. In 2014, as a redshirt sophomore, he averaged 31.2 yards per kick return with two touchdowns. He averaged 21.5 yards per return last season.
“Alex has been a great teammate and team guy for four years for us, and we’ve always been proud of him,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said in a press release earlier this month. “This is an opportunity for him to go somewhere else and play full time. We wish him the best.”
Missouri ranked last in the Southeastern Conference in rushing in 2015 — the Tigers rushed for 1,385 yards, averaging 3.5 yards per carry and 115.4 rushing yards per game — and was last among FBS teams in kickoff yards per return, averaging 15.1.
At running back, the Tigers lost Russell Hansbrough (436 yards rushing, one touchdown) and Tyler Hunt (185 yards rushing, one TD) to graduation and then lost Chase Abbington (transfer) and Morgan Steward (injury) since the season ended. Hansbrough, Hunt and Abbington were three of Mizzou’s top five rushers in 2015.
The Tigers return Witter, who led the team with 518 yards rushing in 2015, and then a group of unproven running backs including Trevon Walters, Ryan Williams, Marquise Doherty and signees Natereace Strong and Damarea Crockett.