Some kids are just born to be football players. They have it in them, it’s in their DNA. I believe Freedom linebacker Cody Ross is one of those players. It’s quite obvious that this kid eats, breaths, sleeps football.
It’s also no surprise that despite being just a sophomore, Ross is already one of the leaders of the Freedom football team. But his goals go beyond personal glory; he’s trying to change the culture of the program.
“My personal goal for this year is to try to help turn Freedom into a winning program again and get this team into the playoffs. If we can do that, everything else will take care of itself,” said Ross.
Through 3 games, the Bulldogs are 1-2 and coming off Friday’s impressive 24-21 comeback win over New Brighton.
“You can just sense what Coach Liberty and his staff have done in changing the atmosphere, it’s amazing. Coach Lib is an old school coach, you can’t help but get excited playing for him. He holds all of us accountable and we all believe in what he and the coaches tell us. Plus, the talent here is unbelievable, from the senior group down, there are a lot of guys that you know will get recruited here,” said Ross.
Ross will no doubt be one of the players that will be recruited. On defense, he’s a tackling machine for Freedom, recording 27 tackles in the first 3 games of the season. Only a sophomore, Ross is 5-11, 215 lbs, which means he has time to grow and improve his game.
“I feel my biggest strengths as a player are my football knowledge, my physical strength and just being a team player. I like to myself an old school type of player. I always watch tapes of older players like Lambert, Butkus, Earl Campbell, Jerome Bettis. Those are some of the players that I look up to,” said Ross.
Ross realizes that his game has areas that he’ll need to improve like his speed and strength. He tells me that his strength is there but it has to keep increasing in order to get where he eventually wants to be.
“I want to keep developing as a student of the game,” said Ross. “During the offseason, I train with Darnell Dinkins at Ethic Training. He does an excellent job with us not only on football skills but on football classroom work.”
Ross hopes that all this hard work eventually pays off in scholarship offers down the road. While he hasn’t officially received an offer yet, he’s started the process of visiting schools and was a guest of Pitt this past Saturday.
“Getting recruited by Pitt would be fantastic. I’ve grown up around the program since I was born. A lot of people know my grandfather (Butch Ross) and that he coached Tony Dorsett, so since I was born, both he and my father had me around the program and getting to know the coaches and players. Plus, since I was like 5 or 6, I’ve been to their summer camps. I love the coaches at Pitt, what they’re doing is remarkable. Pitt is special to me.”
The Ross family is synonymous with football in Beaver County and Cody plans on doing his best to strengthen that legacy that was started by his grandfather, the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame coach.
“It’s great to be Butch Ross grandson or the son of Mark Ross. I use that as motivation because I see the commitment that they gave the fame and I’m proud of them,” said Ross. “It’s special to read articles on them especially my Pap and all that he achieved, it’s overwhelming sometimes. ”
“What’s cool is that they never put pressure on me, they let me have my own identity and let me make my own path.. His [Butch Ross] name is on my wrist every game, I know every play that he is with me. I play to make my last name proud.”
// Header image: Photo courtesy of Cody Ross