Notre Dame LB target Josh Ross shows talent in win

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

MISHAWAKA — A trip to Indiana brought more for junior linebacker Josh Ross than a game against second-ranked Penn High School.

It also allowed Ross to get another glimpse at a potential college football future in Northern Indiana. Ross and his teammates at Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary’s received a tour of Notre Dame on Friday before a 24-21 win over Penn.

“I love Notre Dame,” Ross said following the victory. “It reminds me so much of my school. I've always liked Notre Dame since I was a kid."

Notre Dame’s coaching staff expressed its affinity for the 6-foot-1, 225-pound recruit in May with a scholarship offer when Ross made an unofficial visit. Friday’s stop included a campus tour, a quick conversation with the Irish coaches before they left for Virginia and videos highlighting Notre Dame’s program.

Ross, a four-star recruit, keeps in regular contact with Notre Dame defensive line coach Keith Gilmore, who recruits in Michigan.

“My relationship is real well with him,” Ross said. “His nephew played on my little league team. I always knew of him.”

Ross had hoped to attend Notre Dame’s season opener against Texas, but his father’s work schedule prevented them from making the trip. Ross plans to visit for the USC game in October.

Ross showed why several schools have identified him as a top prospect with his performance Friday night. The inside linebacker covered a lot of ground and was almost always near the football. He finished with 10 tackles and one tackle for a loss in the victory.

247Sports slates Ross as the No. 4 inside linebacker in the 2017 recruiting class. Rivals ranks him as the No. 10 outside linebacker.

Despite offers from Oklahoma, Tennessee and Pittsburgh, Ross said the schools in the Midwest — Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State — are the programs standing out the most. The Wolverines, who feature his older brother, James, at linebacker, may be the team to beat.

“He's offered lessons to me my whole life,” Ross said. “That's my big brother. That's my best friend.”

Having an older brother playing Division I football brought greater expectations for Ross in his high school career. He’s lived up to the hype and has made a name for himself.

“Right when I stepped into high school, my freshman year, I was 13 years old,” Ross said. “I stepped into the fire and I really played well. I was real skilled when I came in. That's why people are looking at me now.”

Ross welcomes the attention, but knows it’s only temporary. He will have to earn it again when he reaches college.

“They love on you right now,” Ross said, “but eventually when you step in the door, it's a whole different ball game.”

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame linebacker target Josh Ross, a junior at Orchard Lakes (Mich.) St. Mary's, visited campus before Friday night's game in Mishawaka. (SBT Photo/TYLER JAMES)