Red Bank Catholic's Emanuel Ross stays grounded by going to God with difficult decisions, such as the multiple offers from colleges. Courtesy photo
Red Bank Catholic's Emanuel Ross stays grounded by going to God with difficult decisions, such as the multiple offers from colleges. Courtesy photo

The college football recruiting interest is starting to build for Emanuel Ross, which means the Red Bank High junior is entering one of the most fun experiences of his high school career.

But it can also be one of the most stressful times, as his decision will be the biggest of Ross’ life up to this point.  

“It’s exciting,” he said. “It’s a lot of thinking. I’m proud of it, but obviously you can only pick one. I’m just taking it day by day, and just continuing to work.”

Fortunately, he has a coping mechanism to deal with the pressure.

“A lot of the things I’m on the fence about I just go to God, and he helps me make the decision,” the receiver/defensive back said. “My relationship with God is what gives me clarity. It’s what’s able to keep me grounded during my process and just during everyday life. I’m able to come to Him to make the tough decisions that I have to make in my life – on or off the football field – and in school. It helps me just work to achieve my goals.”

The joyful part of the recruiting process is right now, watching the interest grow and taking pride in all the big-time schools that want his services. The real stress won’t begin until his senior year when the decision must be made (unless he decides early).

Due to his ability to play both offense and defense, Ross’ position is listed as “athlete.” He is the 290th ranked player nationally on the ESPN Junior 300 recruiting chart. He is listed as 40th in the region and sixth in the state and is ranked 32nd nationally at his position.

The majority of the interest has been at receiver, but there are a few schools that like him as a defensive back.

“He’s got the option,” RBC coach Mike Lange said. “He’s about 6-2 now, he’s just a pretty smooth route runner. He runs well, he’ll run track this spring.”

Ross said either position will be all right with him as long as he picks the right school.

“Most places lean toward offense because I do have more offensive film, but I’ll go to college and just kind of do either,” he said. “I’m leaning toward wide receiver, but I’d play both. If the school is the perfect fit for me and defense is how I have to get on the field, I’d do it.”

As for what will constitute the perfect fit, Ross will know it when he feels it.

“When I go to schools, I usually get a feeling,” he said. “It’s not really anything I can explain.”

Emanuel has received offers from Coastal Carolina, Duke, Illinois, Kentucky, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Temple, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Wake Forest and West Virginia. Caseys coach Mike Lange said there are more to come, as Notre Dame, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Wisconsin, Georgia Tech and UCLA have all been in touch with thim.

“There will be some more movement in the next couple of months,” Lange said. “Some guys couldn’t get in to see him during the last time frame. But I’ve had conversations with schools about watching him work out in the spring.”

Ross is not only a great player, but also a quality guy off the field with a 3.5 grade point average. For a young man, he has the rare quality of being an eloquent public speaker, and several times has been asked to speak to gatherings about his faith, along with several other subjects.

“I don’t really do pre-meditated speeches,” he said. “I kind of like it to come from the heart.”

His heart is also where his faith comes from, along with the teachings of his parents, Joel and Sherilyn. The two started an on-line ministry for couples and families several years ago.

“They’ve taught me the things that I know,” he said. “I don’t belong to a church right now. Now that they’ve gotten the ministry, they’re my teacher. What I call myself is a follower of Christ. I believe in Christ, I believe he died for my sins, so that’s the most important thing for me, and just living by the Bible.”

It’s not surprising Lange thinks so highly of Ross, not just for his receiving talents – which led to 29 catches for 615 yards and 10 touchdowns last season – but for his character.

“You can talk about him about football, but you can also talk about him just about being a good kid,” said the coach, who has guided RBC to state championship games each of his first two seasons. “He’s a very humble guy, very mild mannered. He represents the program well.

“Mom and dad are aces too, they really are good people. They appreciate everything. They’re good to work with. You want somebody to represent the program the right way and he really does a nice job.”

And as one of the returning seniors next year, Ross is already taking ownership of being a leader in the off-season activities for the team. He does not like to impose his will verbally on other players; but lets his actions do the speaking.  

“I like to lead by example,” he said. “I’m not really a rah-rah guy to tell you what to do. You can see what I put in, and if you do have any questions, I’m more than willing to answer those questions. But I wouldn’t call myself a bossy leader. I like to do the right thing and have my underclassmen follow behind.”

And he’s one of those players that any coach would want his players to follow.