Gielczyk: Benzie Central’s Tom Ross Taking Talents to Michigan Tech
Benzie Central senior Tom Ross is interested in going into engineering so when it came time for his decision on a college to attend next fall Michigan Tech, whose nickname is also the Huskies, was an easy choice because of its renowned engineering program.
He says he puts school first and sports second, but his football resume is pretty impressive on its own and quality offers to play at the next level came in pretty good numbers.
Michigan Tech, though, stood out among all the others.
Ross paid a visit to the college’s Houghton campus back in October and came away feeling like he’d be right at home.
It became official when Ross signed his National Letter of Intent as his high school football coach Jason Katt looked on proudly, holding a football in his hands and smiling broadly.
“Visiting back in October I really liked the campus and it seemed like a good atmosphere,” Ross said in a phone conversation recently. “Their engineering school was a big part of it.
“Talking to the coaches it seemed like it would be a good team to play for. It seemed like the right fit for me. They’ve had a pretty good team, and I liked the fact that I’d be playing with guys who are completely dedicated. All the coaches seem to have a philosophy I tend to agree with.”
Michigan Tech head coach Steve Olson says that one of the first things the Huskies’ coaching staff is looking to identify is players who fit not only athletically but academically.
Olson added that the coaching staff projects Ross to be able to play as a defensive back for the Huskies somewhere down the road.
But he’ll probably sit out his first year as a red shirt according to Olson.
“We’re excited to have him as an athlete,” Olson said by phone from his office in Houghton. “Almost all of our players come in and they red shirt their first year.
“That’s pretty standard. The only people who haven’t red shirted here at Michigan Tech when they come in right away typically have been punters, kickers, long snappers — specialty type of personnel.
“For most of our players obviously getting into the system, having a year in the weight room getting stronger, getting bigger is what typically takes place. I think he’ll end up being a potentially very good safety somewhere down the road for us. He’s got nice size, he can fill out, he can get bigger and he runs well.”
Michigan Tech competes in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) but struggled a bit in finishing with a 4-6 record overall.
Ross, an All-State safety and a wide receiver in high school, says that his experience playing a couple different positions could come into play if he happens to switch over from safety.
“I look at the upside on Tom,” Olson added. “What he brings from a skill set. He’s played multiple positions, he’s been a quarterback at times. Usually, those guys have a pretty good football common sense aspect to them.
“Playing wide receiver and defensive back add to his football knowledge, which will hopefully show through, and as he grows into his body he’ll become a very good defensive back.”
He’s not disappointed at all with the idea of red shirting his first year, despite his competitive nature.
“I think it’ll be good for me because I’ll be able to get accustomed to college life that first year without the added pressures of football,” Ross said. “But, I’ll still be able to work with football.
“Being able to be at the games on the sidelines, and listening to the coaches as they map out strategy will be a good experience. I’ll get a feel for how things will be when I get a chance to play.”
A multiple sport athlete, Ross also has been a standout for the boys’ basketball and baseball teams.
Greg Gielczyk is an award-winning sports columnist and sportwriter who worked a total 36 years — interrupted for an 18-month period from 1997-99 — at the Manistee News Advocate as sports editor until 2006 and is now retired. He currently is a freelance sportswriter for the Ludington Daily News. Gielczyk can be reached at email@example.com for story ideas.