|Leavenworth's Isaiah Ross.|
Weight: 180 lbs.
Jason Santifer, Olathe South (1999-2001); Erick Mayo, Lawrence (2010-2012)
Ross has dazzled the Sunflower League for three seasons now. That's right -- he's one of the few players you'll ever see around the league who played varsity as a freshman and will graduate as a four-year letter winner. But up until now, he's always played second fiddle to running back Jason Randall, who was a four-year letter winner in his own right. With Randall gone, Ross will firmly be entrenched as "the guy" for the Pioneers.
I categorized Ross as an athlete because it's challenging to pin him down at specific positions. Offensively, he's usually lined up as a slot receiver, but he rotates to the backfield as a twin running back in specific formations. And his junior season production -- 512 receiving yards, 287 rushing yards and a combined six touchdowns -- supports the notion he can player either position very well. Defensively, Ross plays a strong safety role for the Pioneers. He's a hard-hitter who can support the run (36 tackles in 2013), or play in coverage (he's totaled nine career interceptions).
Going forward, it's going to be fun seeing how Leavenworth head coach Mark Littrell decides to use the talented Ross in his senior season. Will he be more running back or receiver? Safety or corner? All we know for sure is that he'll be fun to watch for the fourth season in a row. And with Leavenworth dropping to Class 5A (and essentially out of the Sunflower League come district and playoff play), guys like Ross could be what gets the Pioneers deep into the playoffs.
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