Buffalo Bulls Making the Leap - #3 Boise Ross

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Is Boise Ross the next great UB receiver?

Each week leading up to the 2014 football season we'll be profiling current UB football players who are looking to "Make the Leap" or breakout this season. These can include any current UB players whether that be a backup coming into a starters role or a starter that is ready to elevate their game to the next level. Next up is speedy wide receiver Boise Ross.

2013 Season Review

Entering the 2013 season not much was expected out of Ross as a true freshman receiver on a roster with the likes of Alex Neutz and Fred Lee, but injuries happened and Ross got his opportunity to make an impact and looked very impressive. Ross played in 9 games, starting one, and has 13 receptions for 156 yards to his credit.

While Ross may be diminutive (6-0, 175) he has lightning quick speed that can take off the top of a defense on any play and can make beautiful catches such as this one from the Miami (OH) game last fall:

Ross really showcased his speed on this play as he runs by the defensive back with ease and makes it easy for Joe Licata to put the ball in his hands without a defender near him. I'd also wager that is Ross didn't fall when he made the catch he would have went the distance for a touchdown.

With his speed he can also be a real threat on special teams as a returner, forming a formidable duo with Devin Campbell as the most feared return unit in the MAC.

Any impact by a true freshman on a football team is very impressive, and Ross was no exception; while he didn't put up Alex Neutz-like numbers, he showed flashes of ability that proves he belongs on this list.

Obstacles

Ross presumably enters that 2014 season as the Bulls' number 1 receiver, but Ross will have to overcome some big challenges going from year 1 to year 2:

  1. Mistakes: Ross was only a freshman last year, and he made some very freshman mistakes, the most notable came in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on the second half kickoff (video below). Eliminating mistakes comes with experience and with another year under his belt Ross should improve in this area, but only if he is able to put it all together mentally.
  2. One-trick Pony: The knock against many speedy receivers like Ross is that they have a route tree limited to go routes (streaks). Ross will need to polish his route running and expand his route tree if he wants to truly be a number 1 option.

2014 Season Expectations

Heading into year two Ross will have some NFL sized shoes to fill as Joe Licata's new number one receiving target. He flashed exciting, game-breaking ability at times last year and now his talents will get to be put on full display as both Alex Neutz and Fred Lee have been lost to graduation.

One of the biggest questions surrounding Ross is: Will he be able to handle a number 1 workload? Short answer? Yes. He has track star-type speed and I'm sure if many defensive backs in the MAC can keep up with him in a dead sprint down the field when he has the ball in his hands.

I think its reasonable to expect that we will see a spike in his production from last season to this season, it'll only be natural when he develops a greater rapport with Joe Licata. I'm also interested to see how the UB coaching staff will use him on special teams as a returner, if they'll give Devin Campbell both return duties or have Ross take over punt returns for the departed Alex Neutz. Either way, the coaching staff has a duo of returners that are a threat to take a kick back any time they have the ball in their hands.

Ross has the potential to be a very special receiver in the mold of former Florida International and current Indianapolis Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton, and he may even break some receiving records before he leaves Amherst.

Prediction: 55 receptions for 720 yards, 7 receiving touchdowns

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