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STEPHENVILLE – Derrick Ross is no stranger to dominating football fields.
This weekend Ross will look to dominate on the national stage as the former Texan standout will look to claim his first ArenaBowl Championship when his Jacksonville Sharks square off with the San Jose Sabercats at Stockton Arena in Stockton, California Saturday at 7 p.m. EST on ESPN.
“It’s a blessing,” said Ross. “I’ve been playing in this league for five years and this will be my third time playing in the ArenaBowl. Hopefully the third time’s a charm.”
After coming to Tarleton as a defensive end and running back in 2004, Ross found a home on the offensive side of the ball and went on to be the most prolific runner in the history of Texan Football.
In his first season with the Purple and White, Ross set the school’s single-season rushing record with 1,560 yards in 10 games on 254 carries. His 156.0 yards per game average is also the highest in the history of Texan football. And for an encore, he set the second-highest rushing total and yard per game total for a single-season as a senior.
In two seasons, Ross rushed for 3,072 yards and 22 touchdowns on 490 carries. He was twice named all-LSC first team in addition to being the 2005 LSC Offensive Back of the Year and a two-time All-America selection.
From 2006-2010, he bounced from team-to-team looking for the opportunity to show the world how great of a running back he truly could be. In 2011, Ross was given that opportunity with the Arena Football League and has not looked back.
The former Texan star signed with the Dallas Vigilantes and began his legendary Arena Football career, which has seen Ross boast a record-setting career and play for three ArenaBowl Championships – including this Saturday against San Jose in Stockton, California.
Ross has already established himself as the Arena League’s all-time leader in rushing yards and touchdowns, but the only thing that matters to Ross when his team takes the field this weekend will be finally claiming that elusive championship title.
“Oh my God, you have no idea (how much a championship means to me),” said Ross. “If I get that ring, it would just solidify all the hard work I have put in – it would solidify my legacy.”
Ross’ third attempt at an Arena Bowl title comes in his first season with the Sharks after an offseason that saw him traded three times.
After his three-year career with the Philadelphia Soul, he was traded to Los Angeles but requested a trade. He was then sent to Las Vegas, but upon his arrival, his new team was presented with an offer it couldn’t refuse.
“It was just time for me to leave Philly. It was time for a change of scenery,” said Ross. “They tried to send me to another team and ended up sending me to the L.A. Kiss and then they sent me to Las Vegas, where I had more connections and some friends.
“One of my friends with the Las Vegas organization, Aaron Garcia, was presented with a trade after they acquired me. They ended up getting three starters for me so it was a trade they couldn’t pass up. I was excited to be in Jacksonville because I knew a lot of the players here and I had a lot of good friends. It made the transition very easy for me.”
He did not disappoint the Jacksonville faithful in his debut season with the Sharks as he ran for 586 yards on 147 carries and scored 33 touchdowns, heading into Saturday’s finale. Last week, Ross earned some sweet vindication when his Sharks defeated his former team of three seasons – Philadelphia – by the final score of 61-56 to clinch the American Conference and send the Sharks to ArenaBowl XXVIII.
Now Ross and the Sharks turn their attention to the Sabercats as the former Texan eyes his championship.
“They’re a great defensive team and they have an A++ organization over there, but we’re going to come out and play our game and hopefully have a good outcome,” said Ross.
Kickoff for ArenaBowl XXVIII is set for 7 p.m. EST Saturday on ESPN.