Ross a bright spot for Elks

This season has been an absolute disaster for the Edmonton Elks.

A COVID-19 outbreak in the locker room, an injury to their starting quarterback, seemingly a new PR headache each week, and last but not least, a 2-5 record that has them at the bottom of the CFL standings.

But it hasn’t been all negative in Edmonton this year. One positive has been the emergence of wide receiver Shai Ross — a Winnipegger and a former star with the University of Manitoba Bisons.

Ross, a 28-year-old out of Dakota Collegiate, made five appearances for Edmonton in 2019 as a rookie, but didn’t record a single catch. It’s been a different story this year for Ross who’s now a key contributor on offence with 16 receptions for 225 yards and three touchdowns. His best performance came in last week’s 34-24 road loss to the Ottawa Redblacks as Ross caught three balls for 85 yards and two scores.

Ross is hoping for a similar showing tonight as the Elks are in town tonight to take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at IG Field.

“Well, we had that extra long offseason… Throughout that COVID period, I told myself that I was going to work as hard as I possibly could throughout those two years. I know there may have been some people who kind of took a year off or saw it as a time to relax, but I really took advantage of the time off we had. The results this year are a testament of how hard I worked in the off season,” Ross, who spent most of the time training in Winnipeg, told the Free Press on Thursday.

As hard as Ross worked, he also left some time for play. Earlier this summer at his old high school field, Ross had a friend record a video of him doing a backflip and dunking an Oreo into a glass of milk while mid-air. Social media loved it and USA Today even picked it up, but don’t expect Ross to top that stunt anytime soon.

“You never know what the off season holds, but at the end of the day, I am a professional athlete and I do need to take care of my body and not put myself in any type of position where I could potentially hurt myself doing anything too crazy,” he said.

“But I’m sure I’ll still have fun with it. I love creating videos and shooting content.”

There aren’t enough cookies in Edmonton to help them cope with the season they’re having, though.

“I definitely think this year has been a roller-coaster. We’ve dealt with some adversity, but that’s one of the most exciting things and one of the things that I love most about football is that this sport comes with its challenges and you have to face whatever’s put in front of you,” Ross said.

“No two years are ever going to be the exact same. There’s always going to be trials and tribulations along the way and it’s really how you respond and react to those certain situations you’re put in.”

Ross has had to adjust to not having his younger brother, Alex Taylor, beside him wearing green and gold. Taylor, a running back out of the Western University, was drafted by Edmonton in the sixth round of the 2018 CFL Draft. One year later, Edmonton selected Ross in the fifth round. In 2019, Taylor and Ross, who have the same mother and carry their fathers’ surname, were rookies together and got to play on the same team for the first time. The family duo only got to last one season as Taylor retired in June to enroll in medical school at Queen’s University.

“It was definitely exciting while it lasted. It was kind of nice that he got drafted by Edmonton in 2018 and attended their training camp and went back to school to finish his degree. He mentally prepared me for when I attended camp in 2019 so I knew what to expect. It definitely helped having him there and it was an amazing experience playing with him,” Ross said.

“He’s pursuing his career and doing extremely well and so I definitely wish him all the best and I’m going to continue the legacy on the football side.”

Taylor’s out East at school but will be watching the game on TV But even without his brother in attendance, Ross will have quite the cheering section tonight as he’s lined up 25 tickets for family and friends to watch him play his first CFL regular-season game in Winnipeg.

Ross can rattle off a bunch of great memories of playing at IG Field in his three seasons with the Bisons. He hopes he can add to that list tonight as a professional with an upset win over a favoured Bombers side that rules the CFL with a 7-1 record.

“I don’t want to get too ahead of myself. I just kind of want to take it one step at a time… But, I mean, that would definitely be quite exciting and that might top it, for sure.”

taylor.allen@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @TaylorAllen31

Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen

Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.

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