Name: Josh Ross
Weight: 224 lbs.
High school: Orchard Lake (MI) St. Mary's
Class: Fifth year senior
Jersey number: #12
Last year: I ranked Ross #15 and said he would be the starting WILL linebacker (LINK). He made 53 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 interception.
TTB Rating: 79
Ross had a rough season in 2020. As part of a deteriorating defense - in performance and health - Ross played in every game. While defensive linemen and his fellow inside linebacker Cam McGrone fell apart, Ross kept plugging away. Reports have come out since then that Ross himself was struggling with a lower body injury, too. He missed tackles and got lost in coverage at times. Everyone expected better from him since he was a fourth-year player who was Honorable Mention All-Big Ten in 2018, but it just didn't work out.
Reports about Ross's leadership have been glowing this off-season, and Ross has been named one of the four team captains. He has played a lot but has somehow only started ten games in his career. Among the linebackers, he's the grizzled veteran. New linebackers coach George Helow revealed recently that redshirt freshman Nikhai Hill-Green will be starting next to Ross at inside linebacker (beating out Michael Barrett), and I think that elevates Ross's importance even more. The team needs an experienced player on the inside to get people lined up and keep people calm if and when things go poorly on the field.
Prediction: Starting middle linebacker