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Bonesville One-on-One

Sunday, August 30, 2009
By Ron Cherubini
 Editor of Bonesville The Magazine

In Step with Jay Ross

Pirates' Iron Man in the Trenches Quietly
Makes Big Noise on the Defensive Front

By Ron Cherubini
All rights reserved.

Defensive Line
Wilmington, NC
(Photo: ECU SID)

When Jay Ross came to the East Carolina football program from Wilmington in 2005, he was really just a name on the list of signees. No hype, no fanfare, nothing that particularly stood out. Not even any overly optimistic fan expectations. Yet, after a redshirt season, Ross stepped onto the field and it didn’t take him long to seize a starting role. With big names all around him on the defensive line, Ross almost gets overlooked… almost. To his teammates, he is the model of a football player. Quiet, hard working and consistent. That is, you can count on Big Jay Ross to do his job and do it well down after down after down. With a streak of 24 straight starts – most on the team – Ross is poised to quietly etch himself into ECU lore as one of the best defensive tackles to don the Purple and Gold.

Ross took the time recently to sit down with Bonesville for a one-on-one Q & A in which he talked about this Pirates team, fall camp, goals and his future. Bonesville learned first-hand why his teammates call him the hardest working and most consistently-excellent player they know.

* * * * * *

Bonesville: You guys have done so much as a team with a C-USA Championship, bowl games every year, All-Conference recognition. What is left for you as an individual to prove? What is your view of the team’s goals?

Jay Ross: For me, it is about coming to practice every day and better myself as a player and as a leader for the younger guys. I try to show them the way like the older guys did for me. As a team, we need to win the Conference Championship again. We have to take it one game at time, though, starting with Appalachian State and let the season take care of itself.

ECU Media Relations photo

B: You mentioned some of the older guys who mentored you. Can you tell me about a mentor you had?

JR: When I first got here, Mark Robinson took me under his wing and taught me so much. I wasn’t as developed as I needed to be and he encouraged me to work hard. When I would get down, Mark would pick me up and tell me that everyone goes through this and to keep my head up and focused. So, now I try to teach the younger guys the same way Mark taught me.

B: You have been playing virtually since you showed up on the team. Your teammates refer to you with terms like consistent, hard worker, dependable… it almost seems to be taken for granted that you are going to play very well every down, every game. What do you credit for that type of reaction from your peers?

JR: I think my work ethic comes from Coach Rock (Roggeman). He stresses that whatever you do in life, make sure you do it the best you can, so I come out every day looking to work as hard as I can because I want to get better.

B: What is the toughest aspect of the position you play (defensive tackle)?

JR: The toughest part is having 600 pounds of guys coming at you every play. But as long as you know your job and know that your teammates are counting on you and you don’t want to let them down, you work harder to do your job.

B: Talk a little bit about the guys you line up next to every day on the defensive front?

JR: Scotty Robinson is ready to step in this year. He understands that we are all counting on him this year and I am sure he is up for the challenge. Linval Joseph is a junior but he acts like a senior on and off the field. He is probably the strongest guy we got on the whole team and he works hard every day. And you can’t say enough good things about C.J. Wilson. He comes out every day and works hard and he is one of the hardest workers in the weight room. He deserved that player-of-the-year award he received last year and I think he can do it again this year.

B: Can you name a young player who we should all keep an eye out for as a potential breakout player?

JR: Michael Brooks and Jimmy Booth are both coming along. Michael has one of the best get-offs that I have ever seen and uses his hands extremely well. And Jimmy Booth is developing into a nice player for us.

B: When you work against the number one offensive line, do you feel obligated to rev it up a bit to ensure they are getting hard work?

JR: We play every day like we are the best defense in the conference and in the country, really, and try to give our offense that every day when we work. They work hard as a unit and give us their best every day which helps us for the season. Talent against talent in practice makes the games easier.

B: When you look around this talented team, can you point to a player who above all commands your respect? Why?

JR: Linval Joseph. You know he battled through that back injury and he is back out here working hard every day. He goes till he gives out… till he drops and you cannot ask more from a teammate than that.

B: How eager are you to go ahead and strap it on for Appalachian State?

JR: Of course, game day gets you excited, but we are not ready yet and we are taking it one day at a time, with hard work. I am sure as game week approaches, we will get more eager and eager, but right now we have to get better and better.

B: Do you have a nickname on the team?

JR: They have been calling me Big Jay Ross since I got here, really. So I guess that counts as a nickname.

B: Though C.J. Wilson gets a lot of media attention, you are getting a fair share of attention as well for being a very good NFL prospect. Does this motivate you? Do you dream of the NFL?

JR: If you don’t have a dream to play in the NFL, I don’t think you should be playing college football. I do dream about playing in the NFL and I read the papers and see what they are saying and I just try to put it to the back of my mind and use it as extra motivation. I know that if I just come out and work and work and work, somebody will notice eventually. I play for my teammates and this team.

B: Do you get the sense from your teammates that they are all committed and giving it their all each day for the Pirates?

JR: We have a lot of seniors and I always said that the ’05 class was the best around when we were coming. When I look around at all these guys, we have a special team that can do a lot great things and go far if we can keep everybody focused and away from distractions… we can very good.

B: What would you like your legacy to be at East Carolina?

JR: I want fans to think of me as a guy who put his all into it for the Purple and Gold and left it all on the field.

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08/30/2009 02:43:25 AM


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