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Humboldt graduate Ross ready for tough test

IOWA CITY — Iowa’s biggest game of the year kicks off at 11 a.m. Saturday morning in the “Big House” against No. 19 Michigan.

So far.

Humboldt High School graduate Brady Ross knows that the stakes will only continue to rise as the season progresses, though. A win or a loss this week won’t change that.

“Every game is the most important one on the schedule when it happens,” said Ross, a senior and the starting fullback for the 14th-ranked Hawkeyes. “You can’t get caught looking ahead, and you can’t worry about what’s happened (in the past).

“The Michigan trip is huge. They obviously have a ton of talent, like they always have. That’s been true for as long as they’ve been around. We’ve earned our (4-0) record and we’ve earned the right to go to Ann Arbor, fully expecting to win. I’m sure they feel the same way, though. It’ll come down to who is the tougher team in the end. And it won’t change the fact that that the next game will be our biggest one yet.”

Ross, a captain whose role has been primarily to block for Iowa’s ascending offense, scored his first career touchdown last week in the Hawkeyes’ rout of Middle Tennessee. He called finding the end zone instead of paving the way for someone else “a bucket list item, if you will,” but stayed true to form in immediately deferring his feelings to the team.

“It was fun (to score), but it pales in comparison to the feeling in the locker room after a win,” said Ross, a multi-time academic all-Big Ten honoree. “(The emotion) is exciting in the moment, but it’s not as fulfilling unless it is part of a bigger picture that (helps lead to a victory).

“It was nice to get (a touchdown) checked off my list, but I don’t think about it much beyond that and it’s not of primary importance to me or my role (with Iowa).”

Ross has completely recovered from the ankle injury that sidelined him last fall and the subsequent surgery which kept him in rehabilitation mode all winter and into spring ball.

“No Big Ten player will ever say they’re 100 percent (health-wise), so I won’t go that far, but I feel good,” said Ross, a former walk-on who went on scholarship in 2017. “Sometimes the only thing harder than grinding through the physical (late-fall or early-spring) practices when it’s cold is not being able to go through them. You don’t want to be on the other side (being inactive), and I went through it. So it gives you even more perspective, especially as a senior, and it makes you appreciate (playing) even more.”

Ross has already obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in business management. He continues to work toward a human relations minor as he suits up for one last season in black and gold.

“We’ve shown up so far and taken care of business. We’re four for four,” Ross said. “We just have to give ourselves an opportunity in every game we play, and we’ve done that. We’re only guaranteed eight more chances – especially us seniors.

“Part of what we’ve talked about around here for as long as I can remember is just focusing on the things that matter and not getting carried away with the stuff we can’t control. We have to continue to stay in the moment and keep the right mindset. It may sound simple, but it works for us and it’s a message we embrace as a program.”