Ross eager for UNC preseason
HUNTINGTON — As the door opened to his office Monday afternoon, Huntington High football head coach Billy Seals did a double-take at what he saw.
University of North Carolina offensive lineman Billy Ross came strolling through the door to check out his former team on the first day of 2018 practice.
“Man, Billy looks pretty good, doesn’t he,” Seals said. “He looks like a man now. There’s no more baby fat on that kid.”
Ross’ work in UNC’s offseason program has shown itself as he walked in looking much trimmer than his high school days with the Highlanders. The 6-foot-5, 315-pound redshirt freshman was in town finishing up his final few off days before he, too, gets the 2018 season underway.
On Thursday, Ross reported to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to prepare for the Tar Heels’ start of practice.
After sitting out last season to redshirt, Ross is expected to compete for the starting right guard spot for North Carolina during preseason camp.
The Tar Heels are coming off of a 3-9 season when they lost eight of their first nine games. Therefore, camp under head coach Larry Fedora is going to be wide open with many spots up for grabs.
“Our guys are motivated because of our season last year,” Ross said. “They are ready to bounce back.”
For Ross, his 2017 was spent reconfiguring his body and getting ready to face the rigors of college football, as opposed to those he faced with the Highlanders.
Seals, who played college football at Liberty University, and the Huntington High coaches had prepared Ross for what he would face during that redshirt year before he exited the Highlanders’ program.
“They (the coaches) were exactly right in everything they told me,” Ross said. “They told me what to expect, but it’s a lot different when it’s actually happening. The transition is tough.”
Ross has maintained his friendship with current Huntington High standout Darnell Wright, who is ranked as the No. 2 overall prospect in the Class of 2019 by Rivals.
On Monday, Ross got to catch up with Wright between practice sessions and the two joked around just as they had as teammates with the Highlanders. Considering that Wright listed North Carolina as one of his top-10 schools last week, the possibility remains for the two to again link up as teammates one day.
However, for now, Ross is focused on running out for the first game of 2018 as a starter for North Carolina.
“We’re all excited because we get to go to California in week one,” Ross said. “That will be a fun trip. Hopefully, I can get that start. That’s what I’m working for.”