Ross Is Perfect Fit As Iowa's Fullback

John Bohnenkamp

IOWA CITY — Brady Ross gets it.

He’s Iowa’s starting fullback, which means when he’s in the game he a.) blocks, b.) blocks, c.) blocks and d.) gets an occasional carry or pass reception.

The senior from Humboldt, Iowa, isn’t about nonsense, which makes him perfect for the role he plays.

“Tough, hard-nosed guy,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said about Ross earlier this season, which, again, makes him perfect for his role.

Ross, an all-state linebacker and running back in high school, has just 11 carries for 25 yards and seven receptions for 43 yards in his four seasons with the Hawkeyes.

If he gets the ball, fine, he says.

“It’s all right,” Ross said. “I think the misconception is, when I get the fullback dive on third-and-1 or whatever, it’s oh, I must be excited, jumping for joy inside. It’s good, it’s great — if it’s the best play for the offense, I’m all about it. If there’s a better play for our offense in that situation, we should run it. So, that’s just how I am.”

How he is, perfect for the role.

“I said it a couple of weeks ago — fullbacks don’t always get the media attention, the hype around them,” running back Toren Young said. “But he works so hard.”

Ross called himself “a wannabe guard” when speaking to the media on Tuesday. At 6 foot and 246 pounds, he admits he’s undersized to be an offensive lineman.

“I don’t know if I’d make the cut. I’m a couple of inches short,” he said. “It’s basically what I am. I’ve touched the ball a handful of times in my career. My primary goal is to block, and that’s probably the best way to do it.

“It’s really a position where my job is to block. They’ll throw me a bone once in a while. For me, I prefer to block. When I’m blocking, that means someone with some ability to make the big play has the ball. That’s good for Iowa football.”

“He’s springing blocks for the running backs, helping protect the quarterback, doing different things like that,” Young said. “Watching him play is contagious. When you see him go in there, when he’s leading on a (linebacker), making a big block, that’s contagious. Guys want to go in there and do the same thing.

“You see him on special teams, doing some great things on kick returns, springing some blocks, things like that.”

Ross, who is Iowa’s special teams captain and a three-time academic All-Big Ten selection, came to Iowa as a linebacker, then moved to fullback in the spring of 2016.

“Fullback is a graveyard for all former linebackers,” Ferentz said. “That's where they end up in that stack. But he takes a lot of pride in it and helps set tempo for our team and offense. Tremendous young man. He's been a great leader.”

Ross got the first touchdown of his career with a rush in the Sept. 28 game against Middle Tennessee State.

“He'd better hang on to that moment because they don't get too many of those historically around here, so it was pretty good,” Ferentz quipped at the time.

The touchdown was one moment in Ross’ career. As you talk to him, you realize that, to Ross, blocking someone is always better.

“I don’t know if I’m a good blocker, that’s not up for me to say,” he said. “Trying to get better every day — all the fundamentals, leverage, all of the boring stuff people talk about. That’s what it takes. I continue to try to learn that stuff every day. Again, I don’t know if I’m a good blocker, but I hope someday I will be.

“For me, it comes a little more naturally. I enjoy the physicality, trying to be violent, stuff like that, on the field. It is a mindset, for sure.”