Recruit in Focus: Alex Gross
Alex Gross, #11, Makes a Tackle
It turns out some of the info I wanted to grab about incoming RB/LB Alex Gross was hard to get because he comes from Kettering, not "Ketterind," Ohio as previously noted by me and CU athletic web site. Kettering is a suburb outside of Dayton and that entire area is very fertile football ground, (captain JoJo Smith is from Dayton).
A reader sent the following article, (from a newspaper I still can't identify for sure, but I'm betting it's the Dayton Daily News), about Gross a few months ago. It was buried in the comments section, so many of you may have missed it:
Gross Chooses Ivy League 'Total Package'
When national signing day rolls around, many athletes look for a program that will fit their personal athletic needs. Others seek a college that provides a strong academic program to support their educational needs. For Fairmont High School senior Alex Gross, it was all about both.
As the unquestioned leader of the Firebirds on the football field last season and a tremendous student in the classroom, Gross turned away a number of offers from the likes of Wofford College in South Carolina, Davidson College in North Carolina and several Ohio colleges. Gross even made the difficult decision to walk away from interest shown from Northwestern University, a Big 10 school known as much for its academics as its athletics.
Instead, Gross made one of his official visits to the Ivy League’s Columbia University, and came back with his future in hand.
“It was one of those things where I went there for a weekend visit, came back on Monday, and by Tuesday wanted to go back,” said Gross. “Everything at Columbia just felt right. The coaching staff, the players, the access to New York City and all of the opportunities educationally just can’t be beat. It was the total package academically, socially and football wise.”
As Gross signed his National Letter of Intent to play for the Lions, the Firebird senior looked back on his career at Fairmont.
“I wouldn’t trade my experiences here at Fairmont for any other high school program in the country,” said Gross.
“The leadership role Coach Blevins and Coach Dement put me in has really helped me grow on and off the football field. I feel really well prepared to take on the challenges of college football and life in New York City.”
For Fairmont head coach Brian Blevins, having Gross as his leader paid dividends both on and off the field.
“His leadership for this team was probably more important off the field than on it,” said Blevins. “He has laid the foundation for the guys behind him to continue this legacy, and I know that is very important to him.”
That legacy now includes winning for the Firebirds. After playing a big role in Fairmont’s 7-3 record his sophomore season, Gross grabbed the reigns and turned the team around after a disappointing junior campaign.
“After going 3-7 two years ago, Alex was not only our team captain, but our leader in every aspect of the word,” added Blevins. “He made the commitment to turn things around and basically put us on his back last year.”
With his high school football career behind him, Gross can now look forward to the next level. Aside from making contributions defensively for the Lions, Gross will seek a degree in finance and brokerage, without closing all his doors in the process.
“I think I want to keep my pre-med requirements just in case,” added Gross, with a quick glimpse to his parents, Doctors Mary Ellen Leary and Howard Gross. “I’m going to go into it with an open mind.
“No matter what you do at Columbia, it will open doors for you. Just like here at Fairmont, I know I’ll leave there well prepared.”
Gross as the ball carrier, scans the defense
Jake's Take: Gross looks like he will be prototypical spur linebacker in Lou Ferrari's 3-5-3 set. He racked up 200 total tackles in his junior and senior years and he switched from fullback his junior year to tailback his senior year. As a tailback he ran for 1,300 yards.
It looks like Ferrrari is molding his spur linebackers in the impressive mold of Andy Shalbrack, who I thought was the best freshman in the Ivies last season, bar none.
Long-time Lion fans may see the similarities when they compare the Shalbrack prototype to Columbia great Ed Backus, who patroled the defensive backfield in the mid 70's, (he was also a member of Columbia's Ivy League champion baseball team in 1976). As a sophomore, Backus made headlines in the New York Times when he was mugged on campus, and the Times decided to use this as an example of how Morningside Heights was extremely dangerous, (and back then, it kind of was... A LOT has changed). But Backus ended up mugging a lot of opposing players with big interceptions and rough tackles in his varsity career. He was inducted as member of Columbia's football team of the century in 2000.