Brandon Ross’ path to the starting running back role took an unexpected turn early in training camp, when he was having a hard time holding onto the ball. He’s never had a tendency to fumble in the past, he said, but ball security is something that “flares up every now and then,” and it had become noticeable enough that Maryland Coach Randy Edsall made a note publicly of it a week into camp.
But Edsall quickly followed it up by commenting that Ross had worked to eradicate the problem and was putting together a strong camp. Ross took the lead on the three-man running back race the second week, and although he didn’t take part in the team’s open scrimmage, he was able to hold off Albert Reid and Wes Brown to win the starting job the third week.
It was the second consecutive year that Ross willed himself to the top of the depth chart, but overcoming his fumbling problem early in camp was a true sign of the junior’s experience and maturity. There were no exercises or physical adjustments; it became a mental issue for Ross.
“Before camp, I had a little bit of a problem. There’s a whole lot of things to think about, so sometimes the importance of ball security slips from your mind,” Ross said. “I definitely think I’ve been more conscious than that.”
All three of Maryland’s running backs have a similar physical approach to the position, which makes them hard to distinguish between. But Ross did enough to separate himself; he has quality speed in the open field, catches the ball well out of the backfield and was shifty enough to stand-out in many of the team’s 11-on-11 drills.
“I worked hard for it, and its what I wanted,” Ross said. “I definitely think I can move the chains for our offense. I feel that I bring good speed and acceleration to the offense. Since I view myself as a north-south runner, I feel that my only job is to get up field and get a first down and more.”
Edsall said Tuesday that all three running backs will have roles in the offense. Reid has been applauded for his relentless running nature, and Brown is one of the team’s best athletes who isn’t afraid to make hay in the trenches. Maryland Offensive Coordinator Mike Locksley said Wednesday that Ross, Reid and Brown are all options to be short yardage backs early on this season. Ross has been in that role before, and has a “knack” for running in goal line situations, according to Locksley.
“Brandon is the guy that we’re starting, but there’s a place for both Albert and Wes,” Locksley said. “You’ll see probably all three of those guys playing a role in our game-plan.”