MISHAWAKA, Ind. - Josh Ross mixed his own game and recruiting in different way last weekend.
The Irish got the four-star junior linebacker from Orchard Lake, Mich., on campus Friday hours before he took the field. Ross led St. Mary’s Prep to a 24-21 win over Penn, one of the best programs in Indiana and located less than 10 miles from Notre Dame.
St. Mary’s made a stop on campus as a team the day before the game.
“We got a chance to talk to the coaches,” said Ross, whose older brother plays linebacker at Michigan. “I got a chance to talk to some of the coaches. Brian Kelly gave a speech to our whole team. It felt great. It was really great.”
Ross already holds an offer from Notre Dame along with Cincinnati, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh and Tennessee.
Notre Dame offered in the spring during an unofficial visit. Ross wanted to follow up with another trip for the home opener before transportation fell through. Instead he’s targeting the USC game next month.
Kelly hit home with his message to the team.
“Just stay focused,” Ross said of the speech’s contents. “Stay focused and stay on your grind because any second you could get hurt or get messed up. You have to play every down like it’s your last, with effort, 100 percent effort. That was his main thing.”
Ross already sees similarities between Notre Dame and St. Mary’s, also a Catholic school.
“The tradition,” Ross said. “How everything looks, it kinda feels the same. The messages Notre Dame gives, the religion. It’s religious-based and so is our school. There’s a lot of similarities. I really love Notre Dame.”
Moving forward, Ross plans to “play it by ear” in terms of other visits during the season.
He listed Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Notre Dame as the programs at or near the top of his list.
“For right now that’s the case,” Ross said. “But I haven’t been to every school that’s interested. I don’t know yet. I’ve got to visit some more schools and see what fits me the best.”
Ross has helped St. Mary’s to a 3-0 start as it defends last year’s state championship. He piled up 10 tackles against Penn while playing some on offense as well.
“It started the day we came down here,” Ross said. “We were focused and we stayed on our task. We don’t do this often, come out of town and stay in a hotel … We came out with a great effort. This is the best team effort of the season we’ve had. We came out great and we were focused. I love that about our team.”
St. Mary’s will now settle into a schedule of in-state opponents, but it’s not likely to be the last trip Ross takes to the area. Notre Dame figures to be a player in his recruitment over the long haul.
“I really like Notre Dame,” Ross said. “That’s one of the schools that’s at the top of my list because it reminds me so much of my school. When I was a kid, I just really liked Notre Dame.”