Iowa’s Ross enters limelight, end zone

Fullback Brady Ross scored the first touchdown of his career against Middle Tennessee, but his veteran impact has been worth far more than six points.

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Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa fullback Brady Ross (36) scores a touchdown during a football game between Iowa and Middle Tennessee State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 28, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Blue Raiders, 48-3.

Pete Mills, Sports Reporter

Fullback Brady Ross’s impact on Iowa football has mostly been a quiet one behind the scenes in his career, but that changed on Sept. 28.

The senior plowed past his offensive line to score a 1-yard touchdown during the second quarter of last week’s matchup with Middle Tennessee. It was the first touchdown of his career. Ross — although visibly excited, pumping his chest out after the fact — had a subdued take toward his first score after the game and said his role as a blocker was more important in the game.

“To get in the end zone was cool,” he said. “Frankly, I’m probably more proud of some of the blocks I made, because it was a 1-yard dive. We blocked it really well… Not to be overly self-deprecating, but it hardly took a heroic effort on my end to stumble ahead for a yard.  But it was a good play call and was well-executed by the guys up front.”

The score wasn’t crucial to the team’s win over Middle Tennessee; it put the team up 27-0 over the Raiders in the first half. But the 23-year-old Ross has been a part of this program for a long time, and he said he believes the team can learn some lessons.

“[We’ll] look at this film tomorrow with a critical eye and see what we can improve on,” he said. “It’s kind of a test for a team to see how the finish when they’re ahead. Our attitude is, it’s about what we do, it’s about how we play regardless of the score.”

RELATED: Defensive line crucial in Middle Tennessee win, wants more in Ann Arbor

The bulk of Ross’s impact on the field with this year’s team comes with run and pass blocking, but even more important than this is his off-field leadership. Ross has been voted a team captain by his teammates in each of Iowa’s games thus far, a fact that head coach Kirk Ferentz is more impressed with than Ross’ touchdown against the Blue Raiders.

“He’s been such a good team leader, and the fact that he’s been voted captain each week this season is an indication or illustration of the kind of respect that he’s had from everybody here,” Ferentz said.

Ross had several Division-2 offers following his high school career but passed on them to play linebacker at Iowa in the early part of college. He later made the switch to fullback, a common move for college-aged linebackers.

“Tough, hard-nosed guy,” Ferentz said. “Came here as a linebacker. Fullback is a graveyard for all former linebackers. 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.”

Ross has had other intangible effects on Iowa’s offense this season, as well. In the Sept. 14 matchup with Iowa State, quarterback Nate Stanley scored Iowa’s lone touchdown on the afternoon on a quarterback sneak, with a little bit of help from Ross shoving him through the goal line. With a game like that coming down to a one-point margin, every push — or in this case, shove — makes every bit of difference.

Fans might not hear Ross’ name called again this season, but he’ll still be out there doing his job.

“I believe we do have the potential to be good,” Ross said. “We have to keep improving, keep working hard, and keep stacking good days of practice on each other.”

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