#CFCOPC PLAYERS TO WATCH: Team East Varsity DB Ross student of the game (VIDEO)

The countdown begins to CanadaFootballChat.com’s Ontario Prospect Challenge (OPC) on the April 29th weekend at Tim Horton’s Field in Hamilton. In the days leading up to the OPC, CFC will preview the teams and the players participating in the big event.

Playing on the defense is not just about using your body to stop the opposition’s offense, but also about being able to read and understand the game at a deeper level and Aidan Ross, a member of Team East Varsity, knows his football IQ is as strong as his physicality.

This is not Ross’s first time playing in the Ontario Prospect Challenge, having been a member of Team East U16 squad last year. He said has chosen to participate in the OPC again because it gives him the opportunity to play against the best amateur players in Ontario. “Being able to meet other players from the region that I would have not had a chance to meet otherwise [has been the highlight],” he said.

At the OUA Top Recruit Combine in Ottawa, Ross recorded 4.66 in the pro agility (5-10-5 shuffle), ran 40 yards in 5.1 seconds and competed an 8ft 7in board jump.

The young player’s most recent team is the St. Matthew Tigers (National Capital Secondary School Athletics Association). He has also spent two seasons with the Cumberland Panthers Junior Varsity team (Ontario Varsity Football League).

Ross has been playing football since he was eight where he first earned his stripes with the Orleans Bengals tykes (National Capital Amateur Football League). He has completed his eight season with the Bengals, having been given all-star honours at both the peewee and bantam level.

Standing at 6’3, 185lbs, Ross plays as a defensive back and depending on the defensive scheme, he plays as the strong outside linebacker. “For me, I see playing defensive back as a mental chess match,” he said. “Instead of just relying on physical play, I use my mental ability and understanding of the game to win the battle against the receiver.”

Ross comes from a football family with his father, Ken, having played in the CIS with the Carleton Ravens and CFL with the Montreal Concordes (the current Montreal Alouettes). “I never saw my dad play in university or in the CFL, but the idea that he played at a high caliber, I wanted to achieve the same. It motivated me somehow,” he said.

“He never pushed me into the game,” Ross added. “I fell in love with the game.”

While Ross won’t have the opportunity to play at Ivor Wynne Stadium, the old home of Hamilton Tiger-Cats, like his father, he will have the chance to play at their new turf, Tim Hortons Field. “It is almost surreal to think that I get to play on the same field as professional players and with CFL referees,” he said.

Anyone would think playing under such circumstances would result in a pressure-filled game, but Ross would disagree. “Football is not pressure for me but an escape from the pressure,” he said. “It allows me to live in that moment, that game and that play.”

Ross will be graduating in 2017 and his goal is to play university ball in either Canada or the United States. He said it is important that he focuses on his studies and to find a school that provides him the best opportunity to mature as a student and an athlete. He adds he also wants to improve as a player both on and off the field.

The young player’s ultimate goal is to earn money from the sport, whether he is playing the game or coaching. “As a coach, it would allow me to give back to the game and pass on the knowledge so someone else can enjoy the game of football,” Ross said.

While his future is open to any possibility, he has the chance to influence his immediate future when the OPC weekend commences. He said he wants to be competitive and a hard player to play against during the game.

He added that, “It may sound corny, but all I want to be is the ‘best I can be,’ the best person, teammate and player.”

If Ross can put his heart and soul into the game, he should be able to help his team obtain their goal, which is to win the game.

Advocating for football prospects one story at a time.

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