Junior James Ross III, Linebacker
Hometown: Orchard Lake Saint Mary HS; Orchard Lake, MI
Height/Weight: 6'1, 227
Three Things To Know About James
1. After Michigan's embarrassing loss to Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, James was frank about Michigan's focus going into the game.
"It was our mindset from the jump, we weren't totally into it I would say," sophomore linebacker James Ross III said. "We didn't come out with a lot of energy.
"We have to be better than that."
Of course, even as a sophomore at that point, Ross should know, as he has been a big part of Michigan's defense since stepping onto campus in 2012. He entered as one of four four-star linebackers in the 2012 class but immediately distinguished himself as the most college-ready. Early in the year he moved into the rotation and even made two starts that season. In 2013 he was second on the team in tackles (85) and fourth in TFLs (5.5).
2. This year James will be dealing with a position switch, as the 4-3 over has shifted him from the weakside linebacker position to the strongside.
Ross (6'1, 227), is well suited for a position on the weakside in a 4-3 under defense. The shift of the line to the weakside provided an extra shield from blockers and allowed Ross to read and react (his strength) and move quickly to the ball without having to immediately beat a blocker. On the strongside Ross will be tasked more with tight ends — both defeating blocks in the run game and coverage in the passing game — and he had issues out in coverage against tight ends last year. Michigan has a couple other players fighting for time behind James (including fellow 2012 recruit Royce Jenkins-Stone, who might finally put it together at a position that suits his skills better than WLB).
Still, Ross is too good to be pushed off the field entirely. He is one of Michigan's most instinctual linebackers and a good enough athlete to play sideline to sideline. He will play somewhere.
I'm just tryna find my sleep number— James Ross (@UM_JRoss15) November 2, 2013
Aren't we all.