Ohio State senior Lydell Ross attended the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon in Chicago this past week. As he met with reporters, it was clear that Ross has big things in mind for his final year as a Buckeye.
"For every running back, (1,000 yards) is a benchmark," Ross said. "That's the key number for a tailback here at Ohio State."
Ross sat behind Jonathan Wells in 2001 and Maurice Clarett in 2002. Then, he rallied toward the end of last season to get within striking distance of the 1,000-yard mark. He ended up with 826 yards and 10 touchdowns on 193 carries (4.3 average per carry).
"I know it's my senior year now and I'm ready to go out and give 110 percent," he said. "I just want to be successful and leave here on top, both individually and as a team."
Like many of the Buckeyes, Ross believes he has done everything he could do this summer to get ready for the upcoming season.
"I put everything in my heart and soul into this summer," he said. "I've been saying this has been my best summer since I've been here. I gave it my all this summer and hopefully it will pay off this fall."
It is unclear whether senior Maurice Hall will be ready to go. He missed the spring due to knee injuries. Freshmen Antonio Pittman and Erik Haw will be on the fold, however, to provide competition.
"It's good to see that," Ross said. "That's not surprising. At Ohio State, we're always going to recruit the best players in the nation. It's good to have those guys down there that want to take your spot."
But Ross said he has no plans to relinquish his grasp on the starting job.
"I definitely want to go out there and give 100 percent and put the confidence in the coaches that I can be the number one back," Ross said. "We need everybody clicking on all eight cylinders and doing their job."
Ross, a native of Tampa, said his time at OSU has moved quickly.
"The years have flown by," he said. "There have been a lot of ups and downs. We won a (national) title. They have flown by real quick. This summer has even flown by a lot quicker."
OSU coach Jim Tressel always exhorts his seniors to have a career-best year. He knows if Ross is able to do that and better his numbers from last year, the Buckeyes should be in position to win a lot of games.
"I really think Lydell having a big year for us would be really important for a lot of reasons," Tressel said. "I think we will have a pretty good season if he's able to get over 850 yards. Plus, if he can get over 850 yards, he will be one of the top 10 backs in Ohio State history.
"I think he is very capable of having a breakout year. We also have Maurice Hall and we will probably rotate Branden Joe between tailback, fullback and one-back sets. We also have a pair of senior walk-ons, Roshawn Parker and Michael DeMaria. I am rooting for them as well.
"I hope those seniors, between the five of them, can have that kind of year."