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Washington’s John Ross to skip senior season, enter NFL draft

John Ross, left, had one of the best seasons by a Washington wide receiver. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)
John Ross, left, had one of the best seasons by a Washington wide receiver. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)
By Adam Jude Seattle Times

Washington junior wide receiver John Ross III plans to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft, a source close to Ross confirmed to the Seattle Times.

Perhaps the fastest player in program history, Ross returned from two knee surgeries that kept him out for the entire 2015 season to post one of the best seasons by a wide receiver in UW history. He had 81 catches for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns, helping the Huskies reach the College Football Playoff for the first time.

“Like I’ve said, I’m just blessed to be here,” Ross told the Times after the Huskies’ loss to Alabama in the CFP semifinal Saturday night. “Just going back to last year, I wasn’t even walking (after two knee surgeries). So I’m thankful for anything. Either way it goes, I’m a win-win situation.”

Budda Baker, Sidney Jones, Elijah Qualls and Vita Vea are leaning toward entering the draft early too, a team source told the Times.

ESPN was first to report Ross’ intention to enter the draft.

Ross was an ESPN first-team All-American this season and was named the Huskies’ most valuable player on offense. The Associated Press named him the Pac-12’s offensive player of the year.

Just a few months after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, Ross tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during a 2015 spring practice. He had surgery to repair the ACL on April 18, 2015.

Leaning on former UW teammate Deontae Cooper, who had three ACL surgeries, Ross was determined to have a positive outlook on his rehabilitation, even as he sat out the entire 2015 season.

As a sophomore in 2014, Ross played through the torn meniscus in his right knee and still managed to score seven touchdowns that season, on plays of 91, 20, 55, 75, 86, 100 and 96 yards (two of those were kickoff returns).

He also split time between wide receiver and defensive back during his first two seasons, and he entered 2016 intent to be more precise in the technical aspects of the receiver position – releases, route-running, blocking, etc.

“I can’t be a guy out there running fast and catching passes,” he said in August. “I’ve got to learn how to be a receiver. And to be honest, I’m nowhere close to where I need to be with that.”

The 5-foor-11, 190-pound native of Long Beach, California, ran a hand-timed 4.25-second 40-yard dash during UW’s winter conditioning tests last March. His 22 career touchdown receptions are tied with Reggie Williams (2001-03) for third in program history, behind Mario Bailey (30, 1988-91) and Jermaine Kearse (29, 2008-11).

He’s also the most prolific kick returner in school history, with four returns for a touchdown, including a 92-yard score on his first return this season against Rutgers.

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