Aaron Ross: A Closer Look at the Giants' Young Cornerback
Perhaps the two biggest plays of his young career came in week five of the 2007 season, when he picked off Jets' quarterback Chad Pennington twice, notching his first two National Football League career interceptions and first career touchdown in the same game.
But Giants' cornerback Aaron Ross has done much more than just pick off Pennington twice in one game. He was the winner of the Jim Thorpe Award for the nation’s top defensive back in 2006. He was the defensive Most Valuable Player in the 2006 Alamo Bowl.
The 26-year-old man out of San Antonio, TX has accomplished more than most players have in their whole careers, and he’s only been in the league for two years.
Ross started his football career at John Tyler High School in Tyler, TX, where he played as a cornerback, a wide receiver, and a running back.
Of all his positions, he shined as a defensive back after posting six interceptions, three fumble recoveries, and three blocked kicks in his senior year while only allowing one touchdown reception.
In what was probably his best game as a senior, he racked up 272 all-purpose yards, rushed for two touchdowns, and had an interception against Marshall High School.
Coming off a great high school career, Ross enrolled at the University of Texas to play the cornerback position. At first he was academically ineligible to play, but eventually turned it around and made his way to the field.
In his freshman year in 2003, he played 13 games at the left corner behind current Bears’ cornerback Nathan Vasher, and manned the right corner 12 times in 2004.
His numbers in ’03 were solid, coming up with 27 tackles, 23 of which he completed by himself, a stop for a loss, and two pass breakups.
Ross followed suit in 2004, bolstering his tackle count to 36 with an interception and three pass breakups.
But probably his biggest college football accomplishments came in 2006 as junior.
The Texas Longhorns faced the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30, 2006. Ross had a huge interception in the game, picking off Drew Tate to set up a Texas touchdown. For his outstanding play, he was given the defensive MVP Award.
Earlier that year on Jan 4, 2006, the Longhorns were matched up against the powerful USC Trojans in the Rose Bowl.
Ross was not much of a force in the game, only committing a fumble on a punt return, but it would eventually go unnoticed. Quarterback Vince Young led Ross and the Longhorns to a 41-38 victory, allowing them team to capture the National Title over the Trojans.
With an MVP and a National Title already under his belt, Ross entered the NFL draft and was picked by the New York Giants in the first round as the 20th overall pick. He was one of seven Texas players to be selected in the 2007 NFL Draft, as some of his college teammates also found homes in the NFL.
Following the draft, Ross proposed to his college love interest Sonya Richards, who, like her fiancée, is also a professional athlete. Richards is an Olympic sprinter, and holds the world record in the women’s 400-meter dash.
The two plan to tie the knot in 2010.
In his rookie season with the Giants, Ross recorded 42 tackles, 1.5 sacks, had nine passes defended, and a total of three interceptions, one of which he returned for a 43-yard touchdown.
In Ross’s eyes, being looked at by the veterans on the team as an important player was the greatest aspect of the regular season. Giants’ veterans like Michael Strahan, Kawika Mitchell, and Sam Madison said the rookies were a huge part of the team’s success.
"They told us that we were a big part of the team," Ross said in an interview with Giants.com. "That meant a lot coming from guys like that."
But the team’s 10-6 record during the regular season wasn’t enough, as the Giants went on an incredible run to win Super Bowl XLII, a game that Ross started at cornerback.
The Giants went on to upset the Pats 17-14, and Ross was now a Super Bowl Champion. A month after the big game, Ross was still in shock.
“I still can’t believe we won the Super Bowl,” he said. “I appreciate it, but I don’t think it has sunk in. Maybe when we win another one.”
The Giants went into the 2008 season as the defending champions, and Ross clipped together a good sophomore season.
He recorded 52 tackles in 2008, four of which came for losses. He had eight passes defended and three interceptions with 58 total return yards and a touchdown.
The Giants were edged by the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the '08 post-season, and were unable to go back to the Super Bowl to defend their crown.
Looking ahead to the 2009 season, Ross will likely play a major part as a cornerback in the Giants’ secondary.
Big Blue has lost veteran corner men R.W. McQuarters and Madison, and Ross is just the man to step it up in his third year as a member of the Giants.
And step it up he can. He has the background to prove it.
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