March 28, 2012

Ross looking for increased role as senior

A Vallejo, Calif., native and transfer from Butte College, speedy wide receiver Rashad Ross joined Arizona State for the 2011 season and hasn't slowed down yet.

Prior to arriving in Tempe, Ross earned first-team All-American and Region I All-California first-team honors by the California Community College Athletic Association as a return specialist in both of his seasons at the junior college.

Ross, 6-foot-0, 174 pounds, brought his speed and athleticism to Arizona State's wide receiver position and special teams last seasons while competing on the depth chart at kickoff and punt return against Jamal Miles and Kyle Middlebrooks. That competition has carried into this off-season as all three are back with the squad this spring.

Ross ended the 2011 season with a bang at the Las Vegas Bowl vs. Boise State with a 98 yard kickoff return at the start of the third quarter. He hopes to earn more playing time in the role in the year ahead but knows the competition is stiff.

"I love playing special teams," he said. "It seems like it's all on you and your teammates that are out there. I really like it."

With last season in the rear view mirror and the arrival of a new coaching staff, Arizona State has countless changes ahead of it, as Ross has learned in recent months.

"At first it was kind of chaos because I didn't know what they expected," Ross said. "But when we got on the same page, it was great. And now everything is great. Everything is good, I don't have to complain about nothing."

Shortly after the arrival of coach Todd Graham and his staff, winter workout programs started, and head sports performance coach Shawn Griswold provided Ross with a fresh outlook on strength training, and the results are already evident.

"I wasn't a lifting weights kind of person," Ross said. "If somebody said weights I wouldn't want to do it. But during that time coach Griswold really made me like lifting weights."

Little did Rashad Ross know at the time how that training would benefit him off the football field.

Just prior to the start of spring ball Ross added to his resume by winning the PAC-12 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation 200-meter indoor track championship with a personal best of 21.16 seconds.

"When I first won it I wasn't really excited because I didn't know I had won it," Ross said. "Then Coach came to me and told me I had won the indoor. And I was happy. First I was like whatever and then when I went home and thought about it, I was like dang I really won it and I didn't even run (all season), I was just playing football. I just didn't want anybody to beat me."

The excitement of winning was short lived because spring ball was just around the corner. At wide receiver Ross, said he understands the game better in areas he struggled with last year.

"The coaches tell me to go 100 percent," said Ross, who earned increased playing time as the season wore on and finished with 18 catches for 254 yards and one touchdown. "You know last year I didn't play in the beginning because I didn't know my plays. So, I'm making sure I learn my plays and going 100 percent even if I don't know what I'm doing."

Ross is a explosive play threat, and his speed allows him to get downfield quickly and make big catches, but he's trying to be more well rounded too.

"I learned how to block better, catch better," Ross said. "I just learned the game and the speed of the game."



 

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