Michigan Football Preview 2013

2013 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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When his time came, Ross said, he was ready. "I remember that moment," he said. "The thing that was in my head was, I do not want to be the guy that falls. I saw it on TV a bunch of times — the not-top-10s, the guy falling out of the tunnel. I'm looking at my feet, running. I'm just concentrating on not falling. "I touched that banner, and it was just a surreal moment. Once I touched the banner, I ran down and looked throughout the crowd. A really small section of the stadium is the amount of people at my high school games. For that to be all the way around, it was just amazing." Obviously, Ross finds himself prepping for much bigger moments. He's convinced they are on the way, just like those observing him believe he'll play a key role in those triumphs. He doesn't want to gain a lot of weight, but rather continue increasing his strength and using his speed to optimize his playmaking ability. That approach fits perfectly with the way the Michigan defense appears to be developing. "This will be the fastest defense that we've put on the field," Smith opined. "We're not always going to be the biggest defense, but we will be able to run and change direction. People will notice when we start to play that this group is athletically a little further along than we have been the previous two years." Ross heartily concurs, echoing the spring mantra about the speed element on this year's defensive unit. "We are all pretty fast," Ross said. "We've all got speed. From Frank Clark at 277, big guy, to Jarrod Wilson, we all pretty much have speed. Through our practices, it's all about what Coach [Greg] Mattison teaches us — get to the ball. "Effort to the ball every time — that's what a Michigan defense is, getting to the ball. If we're able to do that, we're going to be a great defense. That's what we're taught, and that's what we're going to do." Ross fuels himself with infinitely more motivation than getting on the field these days. Five losses stung badly, and the final one — against a strong South Carolina squad in the Outback Bowl — hurt him the most. "The last one was pretty tough," he said. "In practice, we were flowing. We had one of the best weeks of practice we could possibly have. The defense was really communicating. "It just really hurt. We thought we put it all together for that game, and it just didn't come out our way." He'll have a bigger say in how it comes out this year. Although he's not a lot bigger, he's on the fast track toward making some resultsaltering stops. ❑ First-And-10 With James Ross III First Car That He Drove: "Probably my dad's station wagon. He thrives on teaching us how to drive way before it's time, so when we actually get to that point, we're used to it, and we're able to drive really well." First Major Sports Event He Attended: "My dad took me to my first Michigan game. It was Michigan versus Indiana, when I was about 7. I was really young." First Concert He Went To: "A Beyonce concert, a free concert out in Dearborn. My whole family went, and it was pretty fun." First Autograph He Asked For: "I don't remember the players, but it was at an offense-defense football camp. There were some Detroit Lions that were there. I don't remember any that are still here now, but there were some Lions players." First Loss That Made Him Cry: "My Little League championship game at Ford Field. My Little League team went undefeated, year after year after year, and we were the ones that ended up losing and lost our streak. I ended up crying — a heartbreaker." First Wolverine Hero: "It has to be Larry Foote. He came through my youth organization football team, and he always came back and coached us. We ended up getting pretty close over time." First Jersey He Bought: "I got a Ray Lewis jersey. That was the first one." First Class He Took At Michigan: "It was a sociology class." First Team He Ever Played For: "The Detroit Dragons — a hockey team. The first sport I played was hockey, when I was 7. I got pretty good at it. I went to travel league for about a year, but it was too expensive. So I went back to the house league for a couple years, then I stopped altogether." First Rival He Hated: "The first rival I ever hated was Catholic Central, a high school team in my league. I don't like them at all — not even a little bit." — John Borton After a strong showing as a rookie in 2012, Ross earned All-Big Ten Freshman honors from both ESPN.com and BTN.com. Photo By Per KJeldsen The Wolverine 2013 Football Preview  ■ 145

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