Ross’ Versatility Extends Beyond The Football Field

By Mason Kelley

John Ross plays cornerback. He plays receiver. He plays the piano?

When it comes to versatility, Washington’s sophomore standout has talents that extend beyond the football field.

Each time the Huskies arrive at a hotel for road games, Ross looks for a piano. It is a talent he picked up in high school.

“I was always interested, just because of the way it sounded when I was a kid,” he said.

As a student at Long Beach (Calif.) Jordan, Ross needed to select an elective. His high school girlfriend told him she was taking a piano class.  

“That sounds pretty cool,” Ross thought at the time. “I always wanted to take a piano class.”

He signed up. It was his first class after lunch. He was always running late.

“I used to work during lunch, so I was always late to class,” he said. “When they would go over how to read music, I wasn’t there.”

So, while he quickly connected notes to play songs, he never learned how to read music. Ross plays by feel. Like his instincts on the football field, he showed an aptitude for listening to a song and then finding the corresponding keys on a piano.

He had a friend in the class who showed him how to position his hands. From there, “It just kind of caught on,” Ross said. “When you hear the keys and then you hear the piece of music, it kind of connects.”

These days, Ross doesn’t get to spend as much time practicing as he would like.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been playing,” Ross said. “I’ve been focusing way more on football and school, but it’s something I remember just because of the sounds.”

When he hears a song, he can figure out how to play it. He doesn’t have a piano, but recently mentioned to a family member he wants to track down a keyboard.

“I don’t really do anything else, go out or anything,” Ross said. “I would rather learn how to read music and continue to play.”

When Washington traveled to Pasadena, Calif. last season, there was a piano in the second-floor foyer just outside the Huskies’ team meeting rooms. Taniela Tupou, Psalm Wooching, Jeff Lindquist and Jake Eldrenkamp, among others, took turns showcasing their piano-playing chops.

Ross was one of the players who showed off his talent. He did it again when Washington traveled to Oregon this season.

When it comes to his music selections, Ross said he once mastered Alicia Keys’ “Falling,” but he is a little rusty. He also plays an Adele song he learned in high school.

Football and school consumes much of Ross’ time, but he has a nagging need to one day get a better grasp on the piano.

“I just fell in love with it,” he said.

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