If you read Making the Leap prior to last season you might remember that I actually did a piece on Boise Ross last year. He was coming off a true freshman season where he made an impact as a receiver on a bowl team after Alex Neutz was taken out by a cheap shot against UMass. I had high hopes going into last year that Ross would emerge as UB's top wideout, but after a few weeks Jeff Quinn had other plans and switched Ross to cornerback.
Career Review/Why He's Here
In his true freshman season, Ross tallied 13 receptions for 156 yards, and was the team's 5th leading receiver despite only playing in 9 contests. Going into last year the hype train was high on Ross as he showed flashes of game-breaking speed and receiving potential that Bulls fans would be clamoring for after the departures of Fred Lee and Alex Neutz. Well, the only receptions Ross would log would be in the first two games against Duquesne and Army where he pulled in 3 receptions for 33 yards and 5 receptions for 36 yards, respectively. After that he was transitioned to the defensive backfield where he would play for the rest of the season, including starting 6 of the Bulls' final 7 games. During his time at corner, Ross tallied 26 tackles, 7 pass break ups, and 1 of the Bulls' 2 interceptions on the season. He also had this sweet scoop-and-score fumble recovery against Ohio. Oh, and that lone interception? That was the defense's first interception OF THE YEAR, 6 games in by a guy who had just switched to DB. Thank goodness there's no more #TepperBall to worry about.
He's on the list because of his exceptional athletic ability, and the promise that he showed last year switching positions mid-season and then making an impact in an area of weakness for the Bulls. It's really hard not to get excited when you have a guy that can be a potential shutdown corner.
- New Scheme - This feels like a bit of a cop-out, but adjusting to a new scheme will be an obstacle for any player on any football team with a new coaching staff and its no different here. However, Ross' adjustment should actually be smoother considering the change from Lou Tepper's scheme where he left his DBs out to dry, to Brian Borland's scheme which is fundamentally more sound and puts the DBs in a better position to succeed.
- Leadership - The Bulls graduated most of its leadership in the defensive backfield with Adam Redden, Witney Sherry, and Cortney Lester all finishing their careers in Amherst. So, that means the DBs will need a new leader to step up on the field, and the position is ripe for Ross to take. Good players are talented on the field, but great players are also skilled leaders on the field, and if Ross wants to be great, he needs to become a leader.
- Pass Rush - This one is a bit out of Ross' hands, but its still important nonetheless. A defense that has a good pass rush and can get pressure on the quarterback will force hurried throws and lead to more mistakes that the defensive backs can take advantage of.
Ross comes into the season as the Bulls' top cornerback after the graduations of Cortney Lester and Witney Sherry, and the expectation is that he'll perform as such. The 6 foot 182 pound Ross has ideal measurables for the position and from the video above you can see that he has the speed to keep up with any receiver in the Mid-American Conference. Also, if his performance from last season and during this year's spring game were any indication, Ross is going to perform to the expectations of a #1 corner. Last season he showed great skill during a transition to a position he hadn't played since High School and performed at a high level throughout; and during the spring game he was in on several pass break ups and was blanketed over any receiver he was covering.
Making the Leap
Making the Leap
Definitely look for Ross to perform at an All-MAC level this season, from what I've seen on tape from last year, his performance in the spring game (to be fair it was vanilla playcalling on both sides) and his freakish athletic ability and speed he has all the tools necessary to take the next step in becoming UB's lockdown corner. Oh, and lets also not forget that new defensive coordinator Brian Borland's base 4-3 scheme puts his DB's in a much better position to succeed; both with safety help and rushing more than 3 defensive linemen at any given time.
This is, of course, assuming that the coaching staff doesn't switch him back to receiver (please don't do that LL Cool Coach).
I think in the new scheme and with a season under his belt in the defensive backfield that Ross improves on his numbers from last year, and shines in the process.
Prediction: 40 tackles, 15 PBU, 5 INTs
Have a safe and happy 4th of July weekend, Bulls fans!