RB Ross still turning heads for Sooners

NORMAN, Okla. -- Even though they were set at running back last fall with Damien Williams and others, the Sooners nearly still played Alex Ross as a true freshman. He was that impressive through summer workouts and two-a-days, drawing comparisons from position coach Cale Gundy to former OU standout Mike Gaddis, who glided past defenders until he tore his ACL in 1989.

This spring, after an offseason in which he’s gotten stronger and faster, Ross has continued to impress.

“He’s really good,” said fellow running back Brennan Clay. “He’s big, and he’s going to be physical. He’s a one-cut, type of guy and he’s just fast. Once he hits that vertical, he’s going to be good. We like backs like that at Oklahoma, and he’s going to do a great job.”

The 6-foot-1, 218-pound Ross tore up OU’s winter testing, posting a 40-yard dash time of 4.46 seconds, third-best among the Sooners’ offensive players. The only two to beat him in the 40 -- Roy Finch and Sterling Shepard -- weigh just 167 and 188 pounds, respectively.

That combination of speed and power has allowed Ross to reel off several big plays in OU’s team sessions so far this spring.

“He’s done some positive things, made some explosive plays with the ball in his hands in some of our run game, which is what you expect,” said offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. “He has great speed, a physical runner. And he’s got a much better grasp of what we’re doing offensively, too, which has given him a better chance to perform at a high level.”

It will be interesting to see how many carries Ross gets this season. In Williams and Clay, the Sooners return their top two backs from last season. Fullback Trey Millard also is back. Notwithstanding all that, OU is likely to run its quarterback a good amount in 2013. Carries will be scarce.

But with Williams, Clay, Millard and Roy Finch all being seniors, Ross could be the heir-apparent in the OU backfield for 2014. Which alone could warrant him time in the rotation this season.