Penn State Hoops Player Trying Jump To NFL

Ross Travis hopes to become the next pro tight end with a strong basketball background. But he has not played football since ninth grade.

See Travis’ monster dunk over Purdue 7-foot center A.J. Hammons.

You can add another name to the list of former Nittany Lions hoping to latch on with NFL teams this spring. This particular athlete will be looking to … well … rebound after a difficult senior season at Penn State.

Ross Travis, who wrapped up his four-year Penn State basketball career last month, has decided to give football a shot. And the 6-foot-7, 230-pounder isn't even bothering with trying the college game.

“This has always been something that's been in the back of my mind,” Travis said. Later, he added, “The opportunity presented itself after basketball season, and I knew I had to take it.”

Travis, who has not played football competitively since ninth grade, believes he has a chance to play tight end in the NFL. He points to round-ballers turned football players Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas and Antonio Gates as role models, though of the three only Graham arrived in the NFL without ever spending time on the college gridiron.

Travis finished his career as Penn State's third all-time rebounder, and was known for his physical style of play. He would often snare a carom with one hand and then clear space with his elbows. He also had a flair for impressive dunks (see above).

But his offensive skills never materialized for the Lions, evidenced by the fact that he shot 21 percent from the 3-point line and 33 percent from the free-throw line as a senior.

Travis sees similarities between himself and the three aforementioned NFL tight ends when it comes to their respective basketball backgrounds.

“A lot of us have the same stat lines,” he said. “We weren't all great scorers but we were all terrific rebounders, and we didn't mind sticking our nose into things and getting a little dirty on the court, and we didn't mind the physicality,” he said. “I think that's going to be the part that for me transitions over there the best. That shouldn't be an issue for me at all.”

Travis was approached by agents Brett Senior and Casey Muir of Tier 1 Sports shortly after PSU's basketball season ended with a loss to Purdue at the Big Ten Tournament. Travis played his best basketball of the season in Chicago.

Senior is a State College native who has a long history of representing former Penn State football players, and wanted to know if Travis had any interest in playing the sport.

Since he had one season of collegiate football eligibility remaining, Travis talked to Nittany Lion gridiron coach James Franklin about the possibility of using it at PSU or another school.

But he ultimately decided that he did not want to commit to spending the entire fall semester at a college, in case football did not work out.

“I just felt it was a better route, to go big, or, if it doesn't work, I can go and play basketball overseas,” Travis said.

Travis just began seriously training for football about a week ago. He said he has already worked out for “quite a few” NFL teams, but declined to give further details. He'd like to bulk up to between 235 and 240 pounds.

He intends to work out with as many teams as possible leading up to the NFL Draft, which runs from April 30-May 2.

If he is not selected, his combination of size and athletic ability will almost certainly prompt teams to look at him as an undrafted free agent. However things play out, the 22-year-old wants to be able to look back and say he gave the NFL a shot.

“You only live once, so I decided to go for it,” Travis said.

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