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Archive for Saturday, September 22, 2001

KU receiver Ross hopes for happy homecoming

September 22, 2001

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As a child growing up in Denver, Roger Ross dreamed of playing football at one school and one school only: The University of Colorado.

"I loved Colorado. I wanted to be there. I wanted to play for them so bad," says Ross, Kansas University's 5-foot-7, 180-pound senior receiver. "I always wanted to play inside that stadium. Now I get my chance wearing blue and white instead of black and gold."

Ross will wear KU's colors on Saturday and start at wide receiver for the Jayhawks during their 2:30 p.m. conference clash against Colorado at Folsom Field.

He's hoping for a big game while playing in front of up to 70 family members and friends.

"I have visualized making big plays all over the field," Ross said, "showing them (Buffs) the kind of player I am, the kind of player they missed out on."

Colorado did not recruit Ross, despite the fact he grabbed 126 catches for 2,845 yards and 40 career touchdowns at Denver's Jefferson High.

The Buffs also did not call on Ross at Garden City CC, where he latched onto 77 receptions for 1,016 yards and a touchdown his sophomore year of junior college.

To make matters worse, Colorado did not heavily recruit Ross' brother Cory a freshman I-back at the University of Nebraska.

"They got in on him too late," Ross said. "Colorado is known for starting to recruit players late. They sent him a jersey, but he didn't want that.

"It's kind of sad," Ross added. "Eric Bienemy (CU's first-year running back coach after working as an assistant at Jefferson High) coached my brother in high school. My brother told me he'd say, 'Why do they let talent like that get out of state?'''

Ross has attended just one CU game as a fan. He made the trip from Garden City to Boulder for a CU game against Nebraska two years ago. The Huskers won that game, 33-30.

"One of my friends, Daniel Graham, gave me tickets," Ross said of CU's senior tight end, who was a teammate of Ross' in high school. "It was the first time I'd been inside that stadium. I had real good seats, too. First level, close to the field. It's pretty crazy in there. It can get pretty loud."

Some fans will be making noise for Ross, who has 10 catches in KU's first two games, good for 124 yards.

"I couldn't believe when I got my final list (of ticket requests) from my mom," he said. "First cousins, second cousins it's crazy. All my family is ready to see me.

"My biggest thing is catching a touchdown there and having a big win before the home folks. I feel calm and relaxed, ready to see my family. My mom has never seen a college game in person. Money is kind of tight for something like that. Seeing her there will be a blessing."

He'll also enjoy chatting with some of the Buffs.

"I know a whole bunch of them," Ross said. "We've been sending messages back and forth. Daniel Graham the tight end said, 'We'll lock Roger down.' I said, 'Daniel won't get off the line.' It's back and forth, in good fun."

KU coach Terry Allen is hoping to call several plays for Ross, so it'll be a happy homecoming.

"One thing about Roger, he gives everything he's got every play and every bit of it," Allen said. "He's an exceptional young man. I don't know if he can go to a higher level, but returning to Denver, returning to Colorado, I think makes it that much more special for him."

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