Archive for Wednesday, October 18, 2000

Ross eager for chance to stuff Buffs

Jayhawk receiver hasn’t forgotten being snubbed by Colorado during recruiting process

October 18, 2000


Roger Ross has a Buffalo chip on his shoulder.

Ross, Kansas University's diminutive junior wide receiver, grew up minutes away from the University of Colorado. He's a lifelong Buffaloes fan.

He played high school ball with his eyes on a CU scholarship, led the state his senior year in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns and didn't get so much as a sniff by the Buffs.

"I've got a whole lot of motivation this week," Ross, a 5-foot-7, 170-pounder from Denver, said Tuesday as he and the Jayhawks prepped for Saturday's homecoming meeting with CU. "I always liked them a lot. They were my favorite college team. Until I got here, and everything changed."

At Denver's Jefferson High, Ross was a two-time all-stater with 126 career receptions for 2,284 yards and 40 TDs.

His prep coach sent film to Boulder and received not even lukewarm interest.

"I was the best receiver in Colorado and I couldn't understand why they didn't want me," said Ross, who went on to receive juco All-America honors both years at Garden City Community College. "I guess they saw my size. My coach told me they said I wouldn't fit into their plans."

CU so rebuffed Ross, they didn't even extend the perfunctory offer to try to make the team as a walk-on.

"I've wanted to play against them for a long time," Ross said. "I want to send a message. I may be short, but I can play."

Ross has 13 catches for 287 yards this season. Team leader Harrison Hill has twice as many receptions for 367 yards.

Ross leads KU with four touchdown receptions, and his 22.1 yards-per-catch average is the highest among receivers with more than one catch.

Ross especially hopes to catch the eye of some Buffs with Denver ties, like tight end Dan Graham, wideout Roman Hollowell and running back Marcus Houston. Graham and Houston also graduated from Jefferson High.

"We don't talk all the time, but when I see them we talk," Ross said. "A lot of those guys probably think I don't play any more. Maybe when they watch film this week they'll see I am still playing."

Not if they look at film from the Kansas State game. That's the only game this season in which Ross has failed to make at least one catch, an oversight KU coach Allen still regrets.

"We needed to spread it out more," Allen said, "and not just get the ball to Harrison. Some of that was schemes, what Kansas State was trying to do, but we only got the ball in Roger's hands on punt returns. We really needed to get him the ball more."

It's no coincidence that KU declared do-over on its first five games and started a "new" season last week with a victory over Missouri and that Ross had a pretty fair second season opener.

Ross had two catches for 23 yards, including an eight-yard TD reception, and returned a punt 62 yards for another score to tie QB Dylen Smith for the team lead in scoring.

"It felt good, because I wanted to prove I can play at this level," Ross said. "I love being out there, making big plays. I think I can make the big plays, and I was happy I got the chance."

Kickoff for KU-CU will be 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Trainer: The Jayhawks resumed physical, scrimmage-heavy practices on Tuesday, a nod to the success they had the previous week with live-action scrimmaging leading up to the Missouri game.

"It was very similar to last Tuesday," Allen said. "We're really trying to instill the whole procedure we went through last week. We had a good practice, not a great practice.

"We executed well today. We eliminated some of the mistakes we made."

Injury update: Allen reported that offensive guard Kyle Grady would not play this week, but Chuck Jarvis, one of Grady's backups, practiced Tuesday and should be available Saturday. Defensive tackle Ryan Atkinson also should return. Senior center Bob Schmidt "ran around" a little Tuesday and was listed between questionable and probable for CU.

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