From the July 22 edition Darren Steinke writes about our OT recruit:
When Taylor Ross came to Medicine Hat High School half way through his Grade 10 year, it wouldn’t be an understatement to say his football knowledge was limited.
“We watched the NFL a couple of times, but I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” said the 19-year-old Ross. “I heard about it (the CFL), when I first moved here, but I didn’t know exactly at all what it was.
Before moving to Medicine Hat, Ross had lived the previous eight years of his life in Ljungskile, Sweden. Before that, Ross lived in Australia and was born in the city of Wollongong.
He has played sports before coming to Medicine Hat, but not at an organized level. In the spring of 2009, Ross joined the Mohawks rugby team. Thanks to the fact that he stood 6-foot-5 and weighed 280 pounds, Quinn Skelton, who is the head coach of both the Mohawks rugby and football squads, convinced Ross to try football as well.
After only two season of playing right tackle on the offensive line, Ross earned a spot on the South team roster for Football Alberta’s Senior Bowl, and committed to joining the University of Guelph Gryphons football program.
At the beginning, Ross, who was nicknamed “Thor” by his teammates, said things didn’t really come easy.
“I was really nervous, when I first started playing football,” said Ross. “I didn’t know what I was doing.
“My first season in Grade 11 I think I only ever really played one game, so I was a decent bench warmer.”
Following that rookie season, Ross knew he had to improve if he was going to see significant playing time. He religiously followed the off-season workout programs the Hat High coaches give to their players.
Outside of his programs, Ross also took part in the receiver’s sessions in morning, where he went out and caught a few passes. Besides working on his conditioning, Ross saw the sessions with the receivers as a chance to further bond with his teammates. He was going to pursue anything that could help him.
“Taylor was never afraid to come out and work hard,” said Skelton. “He could see from what we were doing that we could help him develop some skills and give him some background to go on to the next level. I think he was pretty excited about it.”
The hard work paid off as Ross earned the starting right tackle position on the offensive line as a Grade 12 senior. As the Mohawks progressed through a 6-2 overall season that ended with a 27-7 loss in the Rangeland Football Conference final to Holy Trinity Academy, Ross started to get noticed by some post-secondary teams.
Over this time, the two clubs he had frequent contact with were the Gryphons and the Calgary Colts of the Canadian Junior Football League.
While Ross’s confidence was on the rise, the next big challenge was making the South squad for the Senior Bowl. He made the South team and helped them post a 34-6 victory over the North squad.
“For me, it was a big personal accomplishment,” said Ross. “It took awhile for me to convince myself that it was even worth trying out seeing as how I had only played for such a short amount of time.
“Making the team was a real confidence booster in my abilities and my future in football.”
After that game, Ross felt like he was getting calls constantly from recruiters. Blake Nill, the head coach of the University of Calgary Dinos, paid the young offensive lineman a visit, and he almost lost track of how many junior teams were trying to call him.
Despite all this extra attention, Ross knew his decision on where to play would come down to basically the two clubs.
“For me, it was really just trying to choose between the Colts or Guelph, because they had been there the longest, and they had really been invested in me for a long time,” said Ross. “Guelph just seemed like the most comfortable fit for me, when it came down to actually making the decision.”
Now, Ross is looking forward to that first player’s meeting with the Gryphons on Aug. 20. That meeting officially opens training camp with that squad, and Ross will embark on his next step with football.
“I am really excited,” said Ross. “It is a little nerve-racking realizing that I have to start over with a new team and trying to get to know everyone again.
“I am looking forward to it just because it is going to be such a great experience.”