Cal Returner Ross Making Visit to Green Bay

In Packer Report's 37th draft exclusive, we talked to receiver/returner Jeremy Ross, who ranks second in Cal history in punt return average. No team risked more — and got less — from its punt return unit than the Packers in 2010.

As part of a light-hearted video series in college, California's Jeremy Ross's apartment was featured on "Cal Cribs."

When Ross opened his refrigerator, he pulled out a bottle of sparkling cider, which was to be enjoyed during times of celebration.

Like getting drafted in two-and-a-half weeks?

"Most definitely, man. I'm going to pop a lot of bottles of sparking cider. It's going to be a celebration," Ross told Packer Report last week.

Ross, along with Utah's Shaky Smithson, will be making pre-draft visits to Green Bay this week. Both players are wide receivers with histories of being explosive kick returners.

The visits were first reported by National Football Post. NFL sources confirmed both, and Ross told Packer Report that his trek to Green Bay would mark his first visit.

Ross's career average of 15.2 yards per punt return trails only Pro Bowler DeSean Jackson in school history. He returned a punt for a touchdown during part-time duty as a junior, and averaged 12.7 yards per return as the full-time returner as a senior.

He's been less successful on kickoffs, with a 20.3-yard average over his three seasons, but with three- and four-man wedges banned in the pro game, kickoff returns more closely mirror punt returns than they do in the college game.

Jeremy Ross hurdles an Oregon defender.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
The Packers, of course, have a dire need at returner. With a revolving door returning kickoffs, the Packers ranked 26th in the NFL with a 20.1-yard average. With Pro Bowl cornerback Tramon Williams forced to return punts, the Packers ranked 22nd in the league with a 7.9-yard average.

Add together those averages, and only three teams averaged less than the Packers' combined 28.0 yards on kickoff and punt returns. It was even worse in the postseason, with a 15.5-yard average on kickoff returns and a 4.4-yard average on punt returns. Moreover, Williams, who was so sure-handed all season, was charged with four fumbles during the playoffs.

Finding a punt returner, at worst, has to be a prime offseason priority. No team in the NFL has enough cornerbacks — much less the depth to offset a loss to a real standout like Williams.

Ross is one of the best in this draft.

"The secret to that is you definitely have to have a lot of confidence in yourself back there," Ross said. "It takes a lot of focus because there's a lot going on around you and the ball is in the air. You definitely need to focus on the ball as well as being aware of your surroundings. So, it takes a lot of focus and confidence — believing in yourself that you can make that catch and make guys miss and have a lot of vision."

Under Ted Thompson, the Packers' history is that they won't use a roster spot just for a kick returner. The 6-foot Ross, who ran a 4.39 40 with a 39-inch vertical leap and 22 reps on the 225-pound bench press at Cal's pro day, caught 57 passes for 764 yards and three touchdowns during his final three seasons. As a senior, he caught 18 balls for 210 yards and no scores.

"I wouldn't say I've mastered my craft (as a receiver) because you always want to get better, but I feel like I've really developed as a receiver," he said. "I feel like I run great routes, I catch the ball well and I'm definitely a student of the game."

Ross said teams have told him he'd go anywhere from the fifth round to the seventh round or possibly be even a priority undrafted free agent.

Whatever it is, there'll be a cold, bubbly drink and a toast to running past or jumping over would-be tacklers on special teams.

"It's exciting but it's also scary at the same time," he said. "There's always a fear of not knowing, but I'm just excited for the process. I'm just grateful to be i a spot where I can say I'm in a position where I'm possibly going to get drafted. I think I did a great job for myself at the pro day, which I've been hearing raised my stock."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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