CFB Chronicles: John Ross, Touchdown Maker
The Washington Huskies have steamrolled their way through the first half of their schedule, outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 297 to 85. While there are many Huskies’ players deserving of praise, senior wide receiver John Ross is near the top of the list.
The spotlight has been aimed at sophomore quarterback Jake Browning, and rightfully so, but the consistency Ross has provided has certainly been a major boon for Browning and the Huskies’ offense this season.
Can Ross parlay his success in 2016 into an NFL roster spot?
A three-star high school recruit according to Rivals, Ross held a smattering of offers from a few major college football programs — including Miami, Michigan, Oregon and UCLA – eventually committing to Washington.
During his freshman and sophomore seasons, Ross was used primarily as a kick returner, averaging 24 yards per return with three kick return touchdowns. He also chipped in as a WR, notching 33 receptions and five touchdowns in 26 games.
Ross’s 15.2 percent touchdown rate during the 2013 and 2014 seasons is impressive and is something that we will revisit shortly.
Ross then underwent knee surgery in January of 2015, only to re-aggravate the injury in May of the same year, ending his junior season before it even began. Now in 2016, Ross is taking full advantage of his recovery.
Early 2016 Production
We came into this weekend with 4 players who had caught a TD in every game. None survived. Your new touchdown consistency leader board. pic.twitter.com/pHEQSIyd3J
— Jon Moore (@HelloJonMoore) October 17, 2016
As long time RotoViz writer Jon Moore pointed out in his tweet above, Ross has scored a TD in five of his six games this season, tied for second in terms of scoring consistency among WRs. He’s also tied for third in the country in raw TD catches with nine. Despite his 5-foot-11-inch, 190-pound frame, he’s up to 14 TDs on just 63 career receptions (22.2 percent), making a case with each passing game that there might be more signal than we’d expect in his unsustainable current-year 30 percent TD rate.
It’s also worth noting that only two of Ross’s nine receiving TDs this season have come on plays of 20 yards or more. In fact, four have come from 10 yards out or less, showing that he has not relied on the big play for his TD production, and has dominated in short-yardage opportunities despite his size.
John Ross As A Prospect
When faced with the task of evaluating college WRs, especially those that may not have ideal height and weight, it’s important to draw from the work Jon Moore has done regarding the importance of special teams.
Since 2000, only 22 players have eclipsed 1,800 career kick return yards with four or more kick return TDs according to Sports Reference. It took Ross just 26 games to achieve that mark.
There are plenty of names on that list that never did a thing at the NFL level, but there are also hits that have shown varying levels of success, most notably T.Y. Hilton, Tavon Austin, and Tyler Lockett. And when we think of John Ross, he certainly fits the mold of those three players.
Ross’s size is not necessarily ideal, and neither is his history of knee injuries. But he has proven to be a steady TD scorer now over the course of 32 career games, has exhibited blazing straight-line speed, and has shown tremendous ability as a kick returner, a trait that should increase the likelihood of him finding a home on an NFL roster.