Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd has, for years, been one of the most dependable Division I football player factories in Northern California. If athlete Justin Ross has his druthers, he'll be the next.
Playing alongside Power 5 prospects Jevon Holland and Quinn Brinnon, Ross has carved out a role for himself on offense and special teams, and is hoping to expand that roll to include more defense next season. Though he didn't play defense last season, he's got four career interceptions and 20 tackles under his belt, to go along with 26 total touchdowns, (12 passing, 4 receiving and 10 rushing).
Ross, who stands at 6-foot, 180 pounds, visited California twice during spring ball before the Bears went on break, and has been hearing from Sacramento State, Oregon State, Northern Arizona and Wyoming. Cal is showing some interest in Ross as a defensive back, while the other schools are looking at him as an athlete, with a focus on receiver.
"I had been talking to Sacramento State coach Fred Kelley for some time, and I took an unofficial visit there last season," he told Scout this week. "Oregon State has emailed a few times and I talk to some of their coaches on Twitter. They recruit a lot of guys from my 7-on-7 team, TMP Elite. NAU sends me letters and they invited me to come to some camps in the summer. Wyoming is actually who I got my first letter from and they have been sending a lot ever since.
"Coach [Gerald] Alexander at Cal really likes me so I plan on being there a lot and building a relationship. I will probably visit Oregon State with my 7-on-7 team, along with UCLA and USC. Also I plan on visiting NAU if I am able to while I am at one of their camps. I also have my eye on [visiting] Nevada."
San Jose State is also in the mix, thanks to the relationship between the head of TMP, Terrance Leonard, and newly-hired Spartans assistant Alonzo Carter, who used to coach at Contra Costa College.
"I took an unofficial there a couple weeks ago," Ross said. "I have been talking with Coach Alonzo Carter. He loves guys from the Bay. Our relationship with San Jose State is great. They have a great coaching staff which leads to great players. They have offered a few guys on my team already. Me and all the other players were really impressed by their practice. They along with other programs have seen the type of guys TMP produces, and they are really interested in us."
Montana has also come calling, with running backs coach Justin Green getting in touch.
"Coach Green from Montana hit me up and will be watching me in the spring," Ross said.
Academically, Ross has a 2.83 cumulative GPA, but a 3.1 GPA so far this spring. He feels he profiles best at wide receiver, and reports a 4.6-second 40 time. Though he cut his season short this spring, he has run track for the Dragons, running 12.3 seconds in the 100-meter dash, and 63 seconds in the 400. He also posted a personal best of 18 feet in the long jump.
"I feel I am best at receiver," he said. "I can showcase my speed, agility, open field moves, and hands. I feel I am best with the ball in my hands. With that being said, some of those same traits I show at defensive back or quarter back, which I can play as well."