August 27, 2011
Video: James Ross Highlights
EAST GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Orchard Lake St. Mary's wasted no time in taking down Grand Rapids West Catholic, emerging with a 35-0 victory in less than two hours. They held the five-score advantage by the end of the second quarter, and the clock ran for the entire second half.
The Eaglets used a dominant rushing attack and some timely big plays from the passing game to move the ball offensively, but their defense was just as impressive. West Catholic had just one sustained drive, with the Eaglet defense suffocating the rushing attack and preventing any movement through the air. They were led by Michigan commitment James Ross, and #6 in white finished the game with three solo tackles - two for loss - and four assists:
MI LB Commit James Ross is, without a doubt, the leader of the St. Mary's defense. He calls the plays on that side of the ball, makes sure his teammates are aligned properly, and is an emotional leader on the field. He is a coachable kid as well.
His main asset is his knowledge of the game. He's able to use his instincts to read keys very quickly, and get into the right position to make plays. He also has sideline-to-sideline speed, and will lower the boom on a ball-carrier when the opportunity presents itself (West Catholic started going away from him after one big hit). I was also impressed with his willingness to take on blockers who are much bigger than him, and the moves that he can use to shed those blockers.
The primary downside of his game is size. While he's taller than his listed 6-0, it's only by a little bit. He's also well-built on his frame, but doesn't have a whole lot of room to add more (good) weight. Somebody close to the St. Mary's program told me that he might be a good fit as a strong safety in college, and though I initially shrugged off that suggestion, there may be more to it. He has very good speed for a linebacker, and exceptional coverage skills for a high-schooler at the position. While his future is at weakside linebacker, he'll be able to play the pass well enough to cover slots, and not come off the field on passing downs, at the least.
Coming into the game, James had a strained hamstring, so when he wasn't on the field to start the game, I was a little worried. However, he showed good toughness in fighting through the injury, and played every snap on defense once he entered the game. I was already high on him as a prospect before yesterday, and this game only reinforced that.
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