Getting four 18-year-olds in one place is a difficult task, and so, for the video we had to settle for three (Terry Richardson, James Ross and Royce Jenkins-Stone). Each of the players was in the middle of exam week when we shot the video, and tight end Devin Funchess couldn’t make the trip from Farmington Hills to Southfield, Mich. where the Rosses live. Ross' father was the original coach of the Cubs, so it was fitting that we all gathered there.
I can say that these guys really do like one another -- that was no gimmick. They're incredibly comfortable around one another. Every time Richardson said something funny or incorrect, Ross would reach over and pinch him on the neck, which is apparently something he has always done.
And hugs went around when Richardson and Jenkins-Stone showed up to the house. The two pestered Ross' younger brother, Josh, about his football team. Josh is 12, and it was evident how much he looks up to James and his friends. He sat in the kitchen and watched the three during the entire video shoot and sheepishly introduced himself to Tom VanHaaren and myself.
The room we filmed in was the Ross' living room, but more so, it's a shrine to their boys' athletic achievements. One wall had a giant poster of James breaking through tackles. Surrounding the fireplace were trophies, past team helmets, photos and medals. It's pretty incredible that a senior in high school and his middle school brother have amassed this amount of accolades and awards.
But, the most interesting part of the night came in the silences. We had asked the guys to reflect on the videos and be as open as they could, but there were many times when the three just fell quiet and watched themselves. Eventually, one would break the silence and say something about how far they've come or how long they've known one another. That would either prompt a story or they'd all agree and go back to being quiet. But even when they were talking to each other, their eyes couldn’t come off the TV screen.
It was amusing to see how far they've come, even for me, as a complete outsider. Richardson -- Michigan's highest-ranked commit -- joked about not minding being the bench warmer and how Ross and Jenkins-Stone were both "man-childs." But, in that room, for at least a little bit, it all seemed like they were adults reflecting on a part of their lives that now seems so far away.