Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings, a rundown of everything happening in Alabama Crimson Tide recruiting with Chris Kirschner. Today, we talk the latest with an in-state 5-star wide receiver.
Breaking down Alabama wide receiver target Justyn Ross
Justyn Ross waited more than a year to hug his mother once again.
Charay Franklin had been stationed in Kuwait as a truck driver in the National Guard. She returned home and surprised her son this last Mother’s Day. It wasn’t the first time he needed to go days, weeks and months to hug his mother. This tour was was Franklin’s third deployment.
“Grandma has been unbelievably strong during that time and raising him,” Phenix City (Ala.) Central High School coach Jamey Dubose told SEC Country. “She’s been getting him to the ball fields when mom wasn’t around. Just having to deal with your mom not being around is tough. A lot of us don’t have to go through that. Family is just always there.
“When you have to go years without your mom there, you have to start realizing things differently. He’s already had to deal with being away from his mom like he’s already in college.”
Not having his mother around regularly until recently is one of the main reasons why Ross is nowhere close to being ready to choose a school. Franklin went on her first visit with her son since he’s become a national recruit earlier this month.
Before his mother returned to the United States, Ross would usually go on visits with his former teammate Markail Benton, who signed with Alabama in 2017. Once Benton signed, Ross was chauffeured around by Central High School coaches or his grandma.
But, the one thing with Ross, you aren’t going to get any indication on what he thought of his time on campus. Ross is just a quiet, humble kid.
“Justyn doesn’t change his personality all that much,” Dubose said. “He could go to places and you’d think he didn’t like it. That’s just his personality. What you see when you interview him is what he is when the recorder is off.
“He is a just very humble guy. He’s a hard worker. He’s also a focused guy. I think those three things really fit him well. He never seems to get too full of himself. He’s so quiet and self-reserved. He doesn’t realize what he has accomplished.”
Justyn Ross, the player
Dubose has been a head coach for 12 years and an offensive coordinator for another 12. In those 24 years, he has had all of one freshman play for him on the varsity level.
Ross didn’t start as a freshman for Dubose but he saw action. It was just too hard to not get him on the field.
“As a freshman, I saw things in him that made me realize that he was really, really good. He started to make plays against guys like John Broussard, who is at Auburn now. We knew when he was a freshman that he was going to be good.”
Just how good does Dubose think Ross can be? Well, he only compared him to arguably the best wide receiver in Alabama history and one of the best receivers in the NFL.
“What I tell people now, college recruiters now, I’ve been in this game now 24 years,” DuBose said to AL.com’s Drew Champlin. “I’ve seen good ones. A lot of people want to compare him and the first one you throw out there is Julio Jones. He’s comparable. He may be better at some places at that time in his career and he may not be. He’s comparable to him.”
Dubose thinks Ross is a no-doubt first-round NFL type of talent who’ll leave college after three years to pursue his professional career. He believes he’s that good.
He believes that because Ross is never satisfied with his game. He can always get better at something. That was on display at the Nike Opening regional camp in Atlanta earlier this year. I noticed several highly ranked recruits not take many reps that day. Ross was not one of them. He consistently was skipping people in line to get extra reps, all despite pulling a leg muscle that day.
“He’s become even more of a hard worker over the years,” Dubose said. “He has a plan to make something out of himself. I think he understands that in order to get something that he’s never had growing up and get the lifestyle he could have, he needs to work hard.”
Ross, who has a top five of Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida and Florida State, possesses a trait that not many receivers have — the ability to make basketball-type of catches over the top of defensive backs. He stands 6 feet, 4 inches and weighs 197 pounds.
“Justyn is No. 1 on a lot of people’s board,” Dubose said. “Everywhere you look, Justyn is at the top of the board for what he brings to the table. I think Justyn has been looking and listening and talking to everyone. I think he has an idea of where he is.”
Whichever programs lands Ross — who has talked about making his commitment on National Signing Day in February — is landing an instant-impact type of player, according to his coach.
“I think he is a guy who could start right away for any program.
“I’m going to tell you this, I’ve been around a lot of great players,” Dubose said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to coach some really exceptional players. Justyn Ross is by far, I don’t know if there’s one better out there, but I would like to see anyone go head-to-head with him and see what they can do.”
And now Franklin will get to see what he can do, too. This time, she’s home for good.
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