With Texas on tap, Kristopher Ross gets set for his senior season at North Shore High
HOUSTON — One day, Kristopher Ross wants to travel the world.
An opportunity to learn about different cultures appeals to the senior at Galena Park North Shore High School. He once visited Haiti during his childhood. He'd like to eventually get passport stamps for France and Dubai.
But over the next few months, Ross is only focused on a possible trip across the state to Arlington. A defensive lineman and 2022 Texas pledge, Ross is set to star this fall at the perennial powerhouse that is North Shore.
The Mustangs won the most recent of their four state championships in 2019, when Ross was a sophomore reserve who didn't play in the 31-17 victory over Duncanville at AT&T Stadium.
"It's motivated me to go out there and work for my own," said Ross, who will open his senior season against Alvin Shadow Creek on Friday.
This preseason, North Shore was voted No. 4 in the Class 6A poll compiled by Dave Campbell's Texas Football; 247Sports counts four Mustangs among this year's top 160 recruits in the state. A four-star talent, Ross is ranked 46th.
Texas has three defensive linemen so far in its 2022 class — Ross, Arizona product Zac Swanson and Mississippi's Aaron Bryant, who committed to the Longhorns on Thursday.
When asked what he brings to a football field, Ross (6 feet 3, 280 pounds) described himself as technical, powerful and versatile. He has studied the finesse of San Francisco 49ers standout Nick Bosa and has tried to emulate the powerful push-pull move patented by Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams. Longtime North Shore coach Jon Kay said that although he didn't want to date himself, Ross reminds him of Howie Long, the Raiders' Hall of Famer.
"He's a guy out there that's extremely explosive," Kay said. "He's not trying to hurt anybody; he's just trying to play the game. He's got a great disposition. But when he comes out of his hips and puts his hands on people, you can see the violence that he can create."
Ross was honored last season for his work on the defensive line with a first-team designation on the All-District 21-6A team. In the state semifinals, North Shore started Ross at left tackle against eventual state champion Westlake. Those were his first significant snaps of the season at the position.
"That's one of the greatest traits that he has. He's not just a defensive lineman; he's a football player," Kay said. "He understands the game, and he wants to go out there and compete. He'll do whatever the team needs."
When Ross committed March 23, he made sure to thank his mother. He has credited his mom with teaching him about work ethic and sacrifice. Tinnequo Lightfoot-Ross has served as his biggest and loudest cheerleader in the stands. She also was once a track and field coach at Southern University, so she has tutored her son in that sport. At the UIL state meet in the spring, he finished fourth in the Class 6A shot put.
The commitment date that Ross chose was also a tribute. March 23 is the anniversary of the day that his father passed away after a battle with cancer.
"I know my dad tried to push me and wanted a lot out of me," Ross said. "That kind of pushed me more to get there, make me work harder and do it for him."
At Texas, Ross will work with UT assistant coach Bo Davis. Like Ross, Davis has ties to North Shore. He coached at the high school in 1997-2002. Since then, Davis has worked at LSU, Alabama, Texas and UTSA and in the NFL.
"Coach Davis is a good coach," Ross said. "I sat there and witnessed him coach before. ... I like the way he coaches."