Ross: 'Don't forget about me'

Running back is a wide open position for OU, and sophomore Alex Ross is certainly part of the equation.

It's a new day for Oklahoma at running back. The names that had become so familiar the last few years in Norman are now gone.

Brennan Clay? After solid junior and senior seasons, Clay is the last of the Cali Trio to leave OU. Junior college transfer Damien Williams provided a lot of memories in his two seasons at OU before being dismissed from the Sooners toward the end of last season.

And Roy Finch, one of the more polarizing players in years, is also gone. Three senior running backs and now OU doesn't even have a junior at the position.

Having that much experience meant some of the other guys had to wait. No matter how big of a star they were in high school, they were going to show some patience if they wanted to play running back at OU.

Now is their opportunity. Sophomore Keith Ford looks like he might have the slight lead, but redshirt sophomore Alex Ross is doing his best to make sure people don't forget about him.

It's easy to not think of Ross too much right now. Limited opportunities on the field have been combined with questionable decisions, and he has seen the bench more than the field.

"This year I have a better chance of playing," Ross said. "I've been working hard out there this spring. I paid my dues and waited my time. I felt like I needed time to get acclimated to everything around here."

It was a maturing process for Ross, but he said he understands what he needs to do now. And as some are already counting the days until five-star Joe Mixon arrives on campus, Ross is quietly going about his business with a different intensity.

"Nobody has a starting role right now," Ross said. "Nobody is really that guy. You can't change the past. I'm just playing hard every down, working hard and running fast. I'm just doing what I need to do."

The first couple of weeks of spring have been solid for Ross, including a solid outing in last weekend's scrimmage. But it all stems from the bowl practices in preparation for OU's showdown with Alabama for the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

It was a change in responsibility and a change in productivity, said running backs coach Cale Gundy when addressing the media on national signing day.

"He's talented, very talented, and he's as strong as an ox," Gundy said. "But there's more to it than that. You have to take care of the football, keep people off the quarterback, know your assignments.

"Alex got so much better at the bowl game because for one month he was with me. He wasn't flip-flopping and going back on the scout team to go against the defense. Some guys need consistent reps, and he got really, really good and started showing some signs of what we thought he was going to be."

Ross hasn't earned the starting job just yet. But he has learned from his mistakes and is ready to make No. 28 mean something once again at OU.

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