Ross Considering Options

Joel Ross currently holds six written scholarship offers and is hoping to grab a few more over the next couple of months, especially from the in-state Tigers. While the Houma, La., native may not have the same priorities as every other recruit when picking a school he certainly knows what he wants, and that is playing time.

Vandebilt Catholic High School defensive tackle Joel Ross was very productive as a junior, notching 62 tackles, 10 of which came for a loss, eight sacks and three fumble recoveries. That productivity helped the 6-foot, 310-pounder net some early offers from Arkansas, Grambling, Mississippi, McNeese State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and while he likes the offers he has, LSU is definitely another program he is interested in hearing from.

"I like Ole Miss a lot because they were the first to offer me," Ross said. "I also like LSU because they are a very good team and in-state, but they are so deep with talent at every position, so there is always a worry about playing time. Obviously at defensive tackle that doesn't play as big a role though because we rotate a lot. There is something that I like about each school that has offered me at this point, but I cannot say that anyone is in the lead at this point because I have spent my summer taking classes to get my grades up and have not been out to visit or research many of these programs."

Back in early April the Sooner coaching staff offered Ross a scholarship and in May two coaches were at Vandebilt Catholic to visit with the defensive tackle and his coaching staff. While Ross has yet to step foot on campus in Norman, there are some things he likes about the Oklahoma program and looks forward to visiting this fall.

"Both Coach (Chris) Wilson and Coach (Jackie) Shipp came out to my school in May to meet with me and my coaches," Ross explained. "They just said they wanted to come out and eyeball me to make sure they were getting what they offered, so I guess I passed the eyeball test. They spoke to my coaches for a long time because they wanted to see what I was like on and off the field and get a good feel for my overall character and work ethic."

"I liked them both and the funny thing is that they are both huge guys who must be working out with the players or something," Ross laughed. "They were the type of coaches you could just sit down with and talk man to man which I liked and I really got a feel that they were back home type of guys. I could definitely see myself playing for both of them because it is easy to play for guys like that. Anytime you feel comfortable with the people you are being coached by it makes it that much easier to reach your potential."

"I do like that the Oklahoma program has a winning tradition and always seems to be playing in a bowl game or national championship lately," Ross explained. "Who wouldn't want to play for a program with all that success? They send a lot of players to the NFL and from what I saw as a fan they have a great defensive line. One thing I want to do this year is analyze them as opposed to watching as a fan because this season it was hard not to just sit back and watch Adrian Peterson tear it up out there. I want to watch them and get a better feel for how I would fit in their scheme and how they use their defensive tackles."

As for visits and a decision, don't expect any rushing from Ross. He has yet to visit many schools and will take all five official visits before making a decision sometime in before signing day.

"I need to take a visit to Oklahoma and learn more about them," Ross said. "At that point I can get a better feel for what they are about and also see what the opportunity to play early is like there. My biggest priority is getting early playing time because I don't want to be one of those guys who are 22 years old and finally getting to play. Education is also very important to my parents and obviously makes a difference to me as well, so I will need to get to understand what they offer in that department too. I guess when it comes down to it I just want to find some place that I feel comfortable with."

As mentioned, Ross is taking summer classes and will need to improve his core GPA of 2.3 to help himself secure more offers at this point as a few schools have indicated an improvement is needed academically. Right now Ross claims a max bench press of 360 pounds, a max squat of 600 pounds and claims a 26-inch vertical leap.

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