Timing is everything. Just ask Billy Ross.
When the former Huntington High School star offensive lineman signed with the University of North Carolina in 2017, his timing couldn’t have been better.
After sitting out the 2017 season as a redshirt freshman, Ross moved right into the Tar Heels’ starting lineup as a sophomore in 2018. In fact, he started all 11 games at right guard.
More important, Ross was very successful.
UNC’s offensive line averaged 442.1 yards of total offense, including 193.0 yards per game rushing. And the O-line allowed only 0.91 sacks per game. As for Ross individually, he was credited with 39 knockdowns in nine graded games.
Yet, despite his obvious success, timing took over.
Remember, there is good timing and bad timing. Ross experienced the latter during the 2019 season in the form of a coaching change.
After starting every game in 2018 under head coach Larry Fedora, Ross didn’t start any games in 2019 but played in nine contests under new head coach Mack Brown.
That’s how fickle timing can be.
Yet it swings both ways, and that’s precisely what happened with Ross. After earning his degree at North Carolina, the Huntington native transferred to Marshall University.
And, lo and behold, what happened?
All-American right guard Cain Madden entered the transfer portal and went to Notre Dame, while right tackle Josh Ball was selected in the 2021 NFL draft.
So, the entire right side of the Thundering Herd’s offensive line is wide open.
Great timing for Ross, huh?
“Right now, I’m at right guard and right tackle,” said Ross, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining. “I swap between both of them.
“I really don’t have a preference between guard and tackle. I’ve played more guard in my career, but I don’t have anything against playing tackle. I played guard the whole time at North Carolina. But I played tackle in high school at Huntington High. I really don’t have a preference, though.”
There is a notable difference between the two positions. A tackle has to be much lighter on his feet and more athletic than a guard, who tends to be more of a road-grader.
“At guard, you are going to face bigger, stronger guys, in my opinion,” said Ross. “You are going to be up in their face more. At tackle, you’re going to have more space to work with but, obviously, you are going to have the faster guys. The guys that can bend. The guys that can move. You’re going to have to deal with that.
“But there are pros and cons to each. You are going to have to move some bigger guys in the run game inside, and you’re going to have to block some fast guys on the outside in the pass game at tackle.
“I think I can be that combo guy. You need to be flexible.”
That’s a prime reason Ross lost about 25 pounds since transferring from North Carolina.
“The heaviest I’ve ever been, I was 330 pounds at one point at UNC,” said Ross, who is now 6-foot-5, 305 pounds. “I can fluctuate from 300 to 330 pretty easily.
“But I’d like to stay between 315 and 300 pounds — anywhere in that range ... 330 pounds was too heavy. So, yeah, it was better to trim down a little bit.”
It was the right time and the right place for Ross.
Yes, timing is indeed everything.