Before he entered his first full season as a starter, Staley tailback Julian Ross received a few pieces of advice from his head coach. Most notably, Phil Lite informed Ross that his speed alone would no longer equate to success. Instead, Ross would need to find the proper running lanes and be willing to absorb — or even dish out — contact.
In the opening week of the season, Ross put the message to use. Faced with a one-on-one against a defender, he could’ve spun, juked or used his speed in the open field.
He elected to lower his shoulder.
“The kid came into me, and I just trucked him,” Ross said. “From then on out, it was just like, alright, here we go.”
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Indeed, the play was merely a foreshadow.
Ross finished his senior season with 2,257 rushing yards and 37 touchdowns. He added another four receiving touchdowns for the Falcons, who reached the Missouri Class 5 state semifinals.
Ross is The Star’s All-Metro football player of the year.
“He did it all year,” Lite said. “Our formula was just to get him the rock and let him run behind our really good offensive line.”
Ross isn’t particularly big — perhaps generously listed at 6 feet, 189 pounds on the roster — but he was especially consistent. In 13 games, he topped 100 yards 11 times. He scored in every game but one — a game he departed with a first-half injury.
He has yet to make a decision about his college future but says he plans to plan somewhere. He is currently weighing a handful of FCS and Division II offers.