Sept. 12, 2005
As one chapter of senior cornerback Gerard Ross’ life comes to a close, another is just beginning.
Primarily a role player through his first three seasons at Florida State, this year will be his chance to make a name for himself.
His time away from the game, just as demanding, recently starting his own family by marrying his long-time girlfriend. Growing up in Jacksonville, he cheered for the Florida Gators, but in his mind, Ross knew there was only one school in the state where the pedigree of the defensive backs was unmatched.
The reputation of defensive coordinator and secondary coach Mickey Andrews, which produced a who’s who of legendary covermen like Deion Sanders and Terrell Buckley, ultimately brought Ross to Florida State.
Coming out of Trinity Christian High School, Ross had an impressive resume with numerous All-America accolades, but in Tallahassee where All-Americans are as common as afternoon rain showers, Ross had to wait his turn. After redshirting in 2001, he played in 24 of 27 games his first two seasons. He moved up the depth chart at left cornerback, but was limited to a cameo role as a junior with current Pittsburgh Steeler Bryant McFadden patrolling the left side of the defensive backfield for the Seminoles.
“I’ve been waiting long enough now,” Ross said. “We’ve always had seniors ahead of me like Stanford Samuels, Rufus Brown and Bryant McFadden, so I think this is my opportunity to show what I can do. I think I’ve become a more consistent player, tougher mentally and physically.
“I came out of high school with high expectations and the way things have been in my situation, mainly just playing special teams, it isn’t always cool to go home,” Ross noted. “You really don’t have a lot of people you can talk to, unless you have someone like I did. My wife has always been there for me, motivating me
and she has really kept my head up.”
While Ross was struggling for playing time on the football field, life away from the gridiron was anything
but difficult. Things were going so well that he decided to take on another role: husband.
Three and a half years ago, a coincidental meeting at a gas station brought Gerard Ross and his new wife,
Michele, together. Last fall Ross knew he was ready to take the next step in their relationship and after consulting with his older brother, Carl, he proposed to her late in the season. In March, the two were married in Jacksonville in a ceremony that featured fellow Seminoles Kyler Hall, Willie Jones, Jerome Carter and Ray Piquion as some of the 14 groomsmen.
In both of his lives, Ross is a mentor. On the football field he tutors younger players in the art of coverage, while at home he is the proud father of a daughter named Amay, who turned two years old in August. Ross has plenty of words of wisdom for the newcomers in the Seminole secondary and he’ll use his life wisdom to
raise his little girl.
“Gerard has been here five years so he’s got the most experience of all the corner-backs,” sophomore cornerback J.R. Bryant said. “He knows the playbook. He knows the checks, what to do, how to do them, when to do them, so he really helps us out.”
With as much knowledge as Ross has to teach the next generation of cornerbacks, he’s still more than willing to learn from the past himself. Whenever former Seminole greats come back to town Ross turns
into the student.
“I’ve talked to LeRoy Butler a couple of times and I talked to Deion (Sanders) in the spring for a little bit,” Ross noted.
“Terrell (Buckley) came down last summer and he taught us about pressing and what to expect when receivers break the huddle, little keys here and there.”
Following an injury to preseason All-America cornerback Antonio Cromartie, the importance of Ross’ knowledge is more invaluable. Florida State will rely heavily on a rotation in the secondary and Ross and his teammates must pull together to make the defense work just like he and Michele work together to keep their
“Teamwork, communication and responsibility are all important in football and in a marriage,” Ross added.
“Michelle and I have to work together and be accountable to each other in order to have a successful family just like I have to be accountable to the rest of the secondary.”
Just like every cornerback who comes to Florida State, Ross has dreams of playing in the NFL, but if that doesn’t work out then he plans on returning to Jacksonville where Michele, who graduated with her
master’s in the spring, has a job with railroad company CSX.
Maybe it’s possible to write a storybook ending at the beginning of a new chapter.
By Michael Smoose
FSU Sports Information