By Mason Kelley
Each time John Ross jogged off the field last season, he sought out an older teammate and asked, “What could I have done better?”
If he dropped a pass, he went looking for advice. If he scored a touchdown, he wanted to better understand how the play worked.
From fellow receivers Kevin Smith and Kasen Williams to quarterback Keith Price, Ross put himself in situations to learn from veteran players. Now in his second season, he is sharing that knowledge with his younger teammates.
“I smile back on that,” Ross said. “I’m appreciative of the guys who left and helped me. It’s translating over to this year. The younger guys come up to me and say, ‘What could I have done better?’”
Whenever Ross made a mistake as a freshman, Price was there for reassurance – “I’m going to come back to you, just be ready” – while Smith helped keep him calm.
“It helped me a lot,” Ross said. “Coming in, I didn’t know too much of anything. I never had a position coach in high school. My head coach handled everything.”
It took one year for Ross to use that advice, and his personal experiences, as way to grow as a leader.
“I want to see those guys grow up, just like I’m growing up,” Ross said. “I’m seeing things better than I did last year, and things are becoming easier. Practices are like games for us now, so the games should be like practices.”
When Ross was in high school, he was quiet. He was respectful in front of reporters, but he let his explosive plays speak for him. These days, he is open and gregarious. When asked about the change in his public demeanor, Ross smiled. He started to laugh.
“In a business like this, you have to keep a smile on your face and just have a good time,” Ross said. “In high school, I didn’t really have too much to say, because I was young and learning. Now I’m having fun and things are going great.”