UB cornerback Boise Ross is ‘all gas, no break’
Converted cornerback helped fuel Buffalo’s 33-15 victory
Boise Ross took one huge step toward finishing his transition – all the way to the end zone on Saturday.
Halfway through the third quarter, Ross, a junior cornerback for the football team, noticed Florida Atlantic quarterback Jason Driskel took three steps back and his eyes were locked on his receiver. Ross jumped the route and ran the ball back 39 yards.
It was the latest endeavor Ross overcame in his full-time return to his high school position. Ross spent the past year re-learning the nuances and details of being a cornerback. He originally played it in high school, but only knew the basics like backpedaling. It wasn’t until he switched from wide receiver to cornerback last season that he was able to learn more about the position in hopes to become the best on the team.
He’s closer than many imagine.
“We knew plays had to be made and that was what our defense was driving for,” Ross said. “I was excited. But we kept it going all day. We were all gas, no break [Saturday].”
Ross moved to cornerback when former head coach Jeff Quinn put him there in 2014 after a slew of injuries left a hole in Buffalo’s secondary. When new head coach Lance Leipold took over, he kept Ross there because of the junior’s aggressiveness and the Bulls’ lack of cornerbacks and plethora of wide receivers.
He shined through the first two games of 2015. In the matchups against Albany and Penn State to begin the season, Ross totaled nine tackles, three pass breakups and an interception.
But this Saturday’s game against Florida Atlantic had to have been his most impressive performance to date.
“[Florida Atlantic] talked that they were going to do something,” Leipold said. “They were trying to make something happen. They were either going to start going one direction or take a shot. Boise had great anticipation. He came up big right there. He really switched it on for good.”
Ross locked in on the Owl’s quarterback and intercepted his second ball of the season with 8:30 left in the third. He then ran down the right sideline virtually unscathed. He didn’t hesitate – it was all one fluid motion from jumping the route to catching it to running to the end zone. The whole play took roughly five seconds.
And Ross knew exactly what to do. That’s what his year-long training has helped him do.
“The ball skills will always be there because I played an offensive position and it helped to get a read on wide receivers as well,” Ross said. “I’m happy that our team got the win and our team is on a good path right now.”
Ross’ touchdown was the second of three Buffalo defensive touchdowns on Saturday, the most in program history in a single game. For all of the defensive glory that occurred during Saturday’s victory, Ross had arguably the best play of all.
So how valuable has Ross been for Buffalo this year? His two interceptions are the most on the team and equaled the entire team’s total from last season. He leads the Bulls with six pass breakups. Even more impressive, the second-year defensive back is tied for first in the nation with eight passes defended.
But it didn’t matter how well he executed. He preferred enjoying the success of the defense as a whole, especially when the unit played as well as it did when the offense struggled for most of the day.
Ross thanked defensive coordinator Brian Borland and senior linebacker Okezie Alozie for their help during his position change. Although he’s enjoying his success, he still has a long way to go before he becomes the shut down cornerback he wants to be.
And no one knows that more than Boise.
“[Borland and Alozie] know a lot about the game,” Ross said. “And if I can just pick their brains and be focused on what my coaches are telling me, there will be more plays like that.”
Only time will tell.
Jordan Grossman is the co-Senior Sports Editor and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jordanmgrossman