Ross aiming to capitalize on opportunities

With Arizona State's Senior Day game against Washington State fast approaching this Saturday, Rashad Ross will is try to end his Sun Devil Career on a winning note. With the Pac-12 South championship out of reach, the wide receiver still realizes the other goals that lie ahead.

"It's Senior Night this Saturday and our last home game of the season," Ross said, "so we are going in there determined to win. We still have hope for a bowl game and we have to play with pride."

The wide receivers have been often mentioned as one of the main reasons behind the recent Sun Devil offensive struggle. Ross isn't concerned with the comments on that topic, and is focused on just doing his job come game day.

"There has been pressure all year from critics," Ross claimed. "Just because they criticize us doesn't mean it's true. We don't listen to any of that, we are just focused on practicing and playing the way we should."

Ross admits that the great chemistry that he and quarterback Taylor Kelly shared on the field during the early part of the year has diminished. After the last two days of practice though, Rashad is optimistic that they can get both get back on track for the final two games of the season.

"Before the season we practiced by ourselves because we lived near each other," Ross recalled. "Then when we started Fall Camp our chemistry was excellent, but lately things have changed. As of right now though, I think we have gotten our chemistry back. This week has been better than the past months. We have talked a lot about it off the field."

Ross has tallied 23 receptions and 366 yards receiving the most amongst all Arizona State receivers. Yet, one of the biggest ways Rashad Ross has helped contribute to the team has been as the team's new kick returner. Averaging 25.6 yards per return and having already returned one kick 100 yards for a touchdown, Ross is confident in his abilities and believes he can have continued success at the position in the NFL.

"I feel like I can be a returner at the next level," Ross stated. "At junior college I was an All-American as a returner and that was one of the things I specialized in. I just had to wait my turn because Jamal (Miles) was here and he is such a good returner as well."

Transferring from Butte College in California two years ago, and despite all the success he enjoyed there, Ross confesses that it was a big adjustment getting used to the additional work when playing Division One football.

"The speed of the game was a big challenge when I transferred," Ross admitted. "Watching tape was also a big adjustment, in junior college you don't have to watch film. Here at ASU, football is school. We practice, but it doesn't end when we leave the field. Our practice is the whole day. We get to the stadium early to get ready for practice and we can be here until 7 p.m. watching film on our opponents."

Ross feels like his two years at ASU have been a blur. Now as he prepares to take the field at Sun Devil Stadium for the last time, the senior is reflecting on all of his past experiences playing football.

"I thought about my senior day since day one," Ross said. "I think about it every day. I think about how I only have two more games left in college, period. It's crazy, as I reflect I can remember being in Pop Warner little league. I never knew it would end so fast."

One of the main things that Ross said that he will take away from his time playing for Head Coach Todd Graham, will be the positive effect Graham had on the player's morals, and ability the staff has had making his players, including Ross, better people on and off the field.

"The biggest thing Coach Graham has taught us is to be disciplined," Ross remarked. "Discipline is the number one thing he demands from us. Coach Graham eliminated all the people with [bad] attitudes. He eliminated the negative influences around our whole football team.

"Our record doesn't show the changes, but the way we act is way different from last year. We are more humble and everyone's character is a lot better."

Coach Graham appreciates Rashad Ross's attitude towards the game on and off the field. Graham also views Ross as a key factor to the future success to the Sun Devils offense this year.

"I am really proud of Rashad Ross," Graham said. "He is a very good person, and it really means a lot to him. He's very conscientious. We challenged him to get better and he has done that. He is a guy that has really improved this year. We need him to step up down the stretch, as he is a guy that is vital to us."

Regardless of the results of the last two regular season games, Rashad is thankful of all the opportunities and experiences that ASU made possible for him.

"ASU has helped give me the opportunity to fulfill my dreams," Ross said. "It has been great to be on a Division I team because of where I came from. To actually make it this far, if you look at my high school most of the players who had talent like me didn't make it as far as I have."