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March 9, 2011

Jeremy Ross looking to follow in Verran Tucker's footsteps

BERKELEY -- Generally, college Pro Days are reserved for giving graduating seniors who may not be high on most draft boards the chance to strut their stuff and maybe draw enough attention to get a free agent contract at the least, and consideration for a late-round pick at the most. Wide receiver Jeremy Ross perhaps helped his cause the most among former Cal players on Wednesday, running a 40-yard dash that was hand-timed as low as 4.39 seconds, though the most consistent number was a 4.46.

"I think I did well," Ross said. "I think I came out here and showed the scouts a lot. I've been training every day for that 40, getting after it. I've been working on my starts on my own, trying to get that drive phase down. We definitely critiqued it, every single day, because I knew that was going to be very important. All the other drills are important, but that one right there is the one. That (4.39) was my best time. The last time I ran one, was 2007 or 2008, and I ran a 4.41."

Ross looked to run one of the smoother three-cone drills out of the skill position players, but he wasn't entirely satisfied, particularly given the state of the newly-laid turf on Witter Rugby Field, which still has more than a few lumps to be ironed out.

"It kind of lumped up, the field was kind of uneven, as far as the bumps and stuff, so that was a big concern," Ross said. "I was concerned about the 40 time because the turf was thicker. The field that we used to go on back down there (in Memorial Stadium) was a lot more cut and the one in Indy is more cut, so I was kind of figuring out how I was going to run on this surface.

"I think I ran well. The agility drills, I wasn't too satisfied with how I did there, with the conditions of the field. Then, they brought out a ginormous cone out there that we hadn't practiced with (on the three-cone drill), but, other than that, I think I performed well. I ran good routes, caught the ball really well, so I think I did well for myself."

The turf's lumps also hindered Ross in the shuttle, where he ran a disappointing 4.2, but ran a 6.71 in the three-cone drill and posted one of the best vertical leaps of the former Bears participating in the measureables portion of the event at 39 inches. He jumped 10-foot-2 in the broad jump, but stumbled backwards just a bit as he landed and recorded an official distance of 9-foot-7. On the bench, Ross put up 225 pounds 22 times.

"I didn't have the biggest numbers this year," said Ross, who caught 18 balls for 210 yards and rushed nine times for 91 yards and two scores. "Coming out here gives me a great opportunity to showcase what I can do. They can see me in person, put me through whatever they want to see, whatever their offense is geared towards. It was definitely a great opportunity for me to show what I can do."

Sacramento native has been preparing for months for this day, and it showed in his physique.

"I've definitely put on a lot of muscle," said Ross, who weighed in at 209 pounds. "My body fat went down, and I'm definitely a lot more lean coming in. Coach (Mike) Blasquez has us on-point with the training regimen that we're on."

Ross' situation is not dissimilar from that of Verran Tucker, who wowed scouts at last year's Pro Day, went undrafted, signed a free agent contract with the Dallas Cowboys, was cut three months later and then wound up playing in the NFL this past season for the Kansas City Chiefs.

"I see him, and I kind of know how we match up," Ross said. "I've seen him practice. I know the guy. Seeing him going into an organization and doing a great job definitely gives me a lot of confidence that maybe I could do this, too."

The San Francisco 49ers will hold a workout for several local prospects on March 20, and Ross will be in attendance. He is also planning on going up to Seattle soon to work out for the Seahawks and their bevy of former Cal stars, including Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett, Mike Gibson, Cameron Morrah and Brandon Mebane.

"I'm going to go up there, check their place out," Ross said. "Eventually, that whole team will be Cal, but who knows what will happen."

Ross holds no illusions of being drafted in the early rounds, but he reserves the right to be surprised by a late-round pick or a free agent signing.

"It could go both ways," Ross said. "I definitely think I could slip into the draft, but it depends on what teams are looking for, what teams really like me, what teams are out here and if they were pleased with what I did. I definitely think I could slip into the draft somewhere, but it could work out as a free agent. I just talked to a couple teams who said I could be a possible free agent with them, but you never know, with other teams, how it works out."

Part of Ross' training has been done on the East Coast, at Test Force Academy in New Jersey.

"They taught me a lot of technical things, and I definitely grew a lot with form, and some of the things that they taught me, I brought here," Ross said. "Along with what I've done with Coach Blasquez, I've kind of combined the two."

After the workout, several teams approached Ross to inquire about tryouts. As of now, Ross is still training with Blasquez and working towards his degree in Social Welfare, which he will complete in time to graduate in May.


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