A background in high school track and field may have helped John Ross develop the kind of lightning speed that will ultimately earn him a huge paycheck in the NFL -- the NFL Draft is April 27 and Ross is considered a first round talent -- but in a recent interview to Sports Illustrated, the former Jordan (Ca.) High and University of Washington speedster says he doesn't want NFL fans or personnel to see him as a 'track guy.'
Ross, who recently earned the title as 'The Fastest 40m Dash Sprinter in NFL Combine History' with a 4.22 second clocking in March, gave an interview to Sports Illustrated's Jonathan Jones and said he wants to be distanced from former track stars who became NFL players -- largely because history hasn't been kind to track talents at the next level.
Ross has long bristled at the notion of being a "track guy" more than a football player. He caught 81 passes for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns last season for the Huskies, and track guys aren't usually that productive. Plus, he never devoted himself to track like he has football.
As a sophomore and junior in high school, Ross didn't really practice for track; he simply showed up on meet days and raced. He has only one year of real track experience, and that was his senior year in 2013, when he took it slightly more seriously but never learned good track form.
Ross probably shouldn't let FloTrack know that. They didn't think his 4.22 second 40m was that fast anyway.
But talent gave Ross an opportunity to race at a high level in high school.
He qualified for the California Southern Section Division I 100m finals in 2013, finishing in 10.72 seconds. But his preliminary race that same event was even faster. Ross went 10.66 seconds. Ross also has a PR in the 200 of 21.56 seconds.
Did any of that high school work translate on the field at the University of Washington or on that fateful day when Ross ran the fastest combine 40 ever?
Ross doesn't want it to be labeled as such.
But Ross' speed dates all the way back to his youth, when he started showing examples of his breakneck speed on the dirt of the playground.
"Tales of Ross's speed go back to his youth. There's the popular story he tells about making his brother and cousin collide in backyard football while trying to cover him. In kickball, he was always an inside-the-park-home-run threat.
And there was no bigger waste of his time than after school in fifth grade. "There would be kids from all over the community and come from different schools to come race me all the time," Ross said. "I would hate it because the kids would be slow. And there were guys faster than them at my school but they didn't want to race them. They wanted to race me."
Be on the lookout in the next week for Ato Bolton's view on the NFL Draft and Ross' spectacular 40. The former Olympic medalist and Trinidad & Tobago sprinter trains NFL clients throughout the offseason.