By Joe Scalzo
After a record-breaking football career at John Carroll, Canfield High graduate Frank Ross found a nice job out of college that required him to work eight hours a day.
Then he’d break for lunch.
Ross spent the past two years as a scout for the New England Patriots, an invaluable stint that taught him the value of hard work, undiscovered talent ... and sleep.
“It was usually a 15-plus hour day,” he said. “I’d have airport runs up to 2 a.m. I got four hours of sleep a night. I slept at the stadium multiple times.
“It’s probably not conducive if you’re a Midwest, simple lifestyle kind of guy. But you can’t pay for that kind of knowledge. I learned a lot.”
His biggest lesson? He wanted to coach, not scout. So after signing a two-year contract extension last year, Ross left the Patriots in the offseason in hopes of landing a college coaching job.
“As a scout, you travel around on the road, find a player, evaluate him, write a report and present your thoughts,” Ross said. “That isn’t what gets me going. I’m a very vocal, stand-up-and-move-around person, whereas a lot of scouting is sitting at a desk. I want to teach, develop and help people.”
Ross got a taste of that with the Patriots, regularly attending practices, playing quarterback with the scout team offense and throwing for the safeties. He also occasionally broke down film for defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.
“I helped out in any capacity I could on the coaching side because scouting wasn’t going to be the end-all, be-all for me,” he said. “If there wasn’t going to be an opportunity for coaching [with the Patriots], I said, ‘Hey, let’s move on and start learning [coaching] as soon as possible.’
“But it was a tough decision to walk away, especially since on paper that’s a fighting Super Bowl contender.”
Ross played quarterback and defensive back for the Cardinals’ 2005 team that lost in the Division II state championship game, splitting time at QB with Sean Baker, who now plays safety for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The two were back in town on Wednesday working out at Ted Rendinelli’s Max Athletic Training facility at 493 Bev Road in Boardman.
After redshirting his first year, Ross switched from quarterback to wide receiver and caught a school-record 204 passes for 2,252 yards and 13 TDs at John Carroll, a Division III school that has sent more than 20 players, coaches and staffers to the NFL, including Hall of Fame coach Don Shula. Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman are also JCU graduates.
Toward the end of Ross’s playing career, he grew close with co-offensive coordinator (and now head coach) Tom Arth, a former backup quarterback with the Indianapolis Colts who recommended Ross to a John Carroll grad named Joe Perella, who recommended him to Caserio, who gave him a chance.
“It was an invaluable experience, learning the system the Patriots have,” Ross said. “Coach [Bill] Belichick’s system is very detailed, very thorough. It covers probably more than other scouting departments. Not in a disrespectful way to anyone else, it’s just the way it is.”
Since leaving the Patriots, Ross has been a finalist for a few Division I graduate assistant positions and would still like to coach at a Division I school, although he could still return to John Carroll as an assistant this summer.
“That might be an option in the short term,” said Ross, who has already completed some classes toward his master’s degree. “They have a new defensive coordinator [Brandon Staley] that I would love to learn under.
“I’m hoping for one of a couple Patriots connections to come through. We’ll see what pops.”