The average American male is approximately 5-foot-9-inches. Cory Ross doesn’t even come close to that measure, but he’s head and shoulders above his peers in the UFL.
At 5-foot-6, Ross can sometimes make Patriots running back Danny Woodhead look like George Muresan. Despite his height (or lack thereof), Ross makes the most of his 200-pound frame to bully his way through defenses. He relishes the contract and feeds on skepticism.
"It's always been my motivation," Ross told the UFL Press. "Whenever someone said that I can't do something, I'd go back to the drawing board and come back and they'd see that I'm serious. My dad and mom raised me to be a guy that never quits, and if I want something to go get it. That's exactly what I’m doing."
His style isn't always pretty. Last year, he led the UFL in rushing with 462 yards on 117 carries, which is fewer than four yards per carry. This season, he hasn't even averaged three yards per carry while playing for the Sacramento Mountain Lions.
While efficiency has its value, Ross' persistent, tough running pays off. He began this season slowly, compiling 211 total yards in his first three games. In the past two weeks, he broke through for 311 combined yards. His performance thrust him into the UFL's top spot in yards from scrimmage, receiving yards and receptions.
Before the UFL, Ross thrived at the University of Nebraska, where he became the ninth-leading rusher in the school's long history.
Even with all his college success, NFL teams still passed on him due to his size. He signed on with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2006. During the last game of the 2007 season, Ross got his first chance to run the ball.
All he did was bust out for 70 yards on 12 carries, including a touchdown against the Steelers. While Pittsburgh rested some starters for the playoffs, the majority of the defense played the whole game. Ross faced off against James Farrior and James Harrison and turned in an outstanding performance, helping the Ravens win.
After the season, the Ravens cut Ross. He spent 2008 out of football, but returned last year with the California Redwoods. He stayed with the team as it relocated from the Bay Area to Sacramento this year, and he continues to prove the critics wrong.
Ross has a realistic chance at becoming the first Triple Crown running back in modern football history – at the season’s end, he could be atop the UFL in rushing yards, receiving yards and receptions.
That’s no small order.