Ross makes sophomore all-state program history

Dodger is recognized for his efforts on both sides of the ball

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Dreshaun Ross of Fort Dodge runs for a first down against Waterloo East on Friday inside Dodgers Stadium

Football used to be just a fun side gig for Dreshaun Ross.

Between long trips to national wrestling tournaments and trophies stacked as tall as his sturdy frame, Ross always enjoyed competing on the gridiron. A long-term future in the sport hadn’t even been taken into consideration.

That sentiment started to change last fall, when Ross cracked the Fort Dodge Senior High starting lineup as a rare freshman starter. Success followed, and soon after, so did a slew of Division I offers.

This week, the recognition came as well. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Ross became the first Dodger sophomore in program history to be named a first team all-state selection by the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association and the Iowa Football Coaches Association.

“It feels good, of course, to be recognized by the coaches and media,” said Ross, who was a Class 4A utility pick. “But that’s not what it’s about. I’m just having fun, doing what I love to do.

“I started flag football when I was a kid, and didn’t take it that seriously really until I got (to FDSH). That’s when I realized I really like playing football. My goals are just to continue to have fun and work hard to see where it takes me on and off the field.”

Given his long, athletic frame, brute strength and natural ability, Ross has already garnered the attention of major-college programs from across the midwest. The Dodger state wrestling champion has football offers on the table from Iowa, Iowa State, Nebraska, Missouri, Purdue, Minnesota, Kansas and Kansas State.

In that respect, the sport has a leg up on wrestling — Ross’s primary focus since he was an elementary-aged prodigy. By NCAA rule, collegiate mat programs aren’t able to formally extend offers to Ross until Sept. 1 of his junior year — over nine months from now.

“My feelings are the same (with football and wrestling): go out, have fun and perform to the best of my abilities,” said Ross, a nationally-ranked grappler who is No. 5 at 220 pounds and No. 30 overall in the United States on the FloWrestling pound-for-pound board. “Nothing really changes mentally between the two sports — there are just physical differences.

“I don’t think I can ever be satisfied. I can be happy about (the honors), but to be great, you need to have a short memory. Move past things quickly and on to the next.”

Fort Dodge head coach Nik Moser doesn’t see the all-state achievement as anything more than a starting point for Ross.

“If he continues to progress both physically and mentally the way he has and I think he will — well, you’ve seen the offers,” Moser said. “There really isn’t much limit to what he can do with football in the years to come. He is already widely respected among coaches; there wasn’t any hesitation about putting him on the first team.”

Ross was a two-way standout for the Dodgers, rushing for 729 yards in seven games at over six yards per carry. He scored eight times. As a linebacker, Ross recorded a team-best 61.5 tackles and 11 tackles for loss.

“His main focus is defense, and rightfully so,” Moser said. “Being a tailback is really something he just picked up on because we needed him there. He doesn’t really practice much on that side of the ball. It’s just sheer athleticism, toughness and instinct.

“I know this is a nice honor for him, but it doesn’t mean much to him in the grand scheme of things. Of course he appreciates it, but that’s not why Dreshaun plays. It’s awesome, but he’s always on to bigger and better. He doesn’t dwell on awards or recognition.”

Ross is just the third Dodger sophomore ever to attain any all-state football status, joining Sam Cook (2013) and Dayson Clayton (2018). Both were third-team picks.


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