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Commentary: Former Sage running back is a model of perseverance

September 04, 2013|By Randall Mycorn

Newport Coast, Calif. That's not the first city that comes to mind when you think of a possible hometown for a USC running back.

A title like that brings to mind legends, such as Reggie Bush, Charles White and Marcus Allen. The list is scattered with greats from all over the country. While the thought of a Newport Coast-bred USC running back seems ridiculous, Taylor Ross has other thoughts.

He has the look of a Newport local, with the blond hair and blue eyes, but that look doesn't match his mental fortitude and style of play. He is an animal, with a competitive nature that could match even the "Black Mamba," the nickname used by another Newport resident, Kobe Bryant.

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It's not just football, lacrosse or soccer. Anything he does he wants to win, whether it's a friendly game of "NBA 2k" on Xbox, or even a game of H.O.R.S.E. in the backyard, just to kill time before a friend arrives.

He just won't accept defeat.

Just this summer, at a Sage Hill alumni touch football game, ex-Sage lightning running back, Eric Cheng, also known as the lightening to Taylor's thunder in their duo from 2011, started to get on Taylor, saying he has always been the faster player.

The two lined up for a 40-yard sprint. While a close race, Cheng ended up edging him, but as soon as they stopped to catch a breath, Ross stood straight up.

"Again," he said firmly.

So they lined up to race, Cheng got him the second time as well.

"Again."

Ross wouldn't let up; they raced four times before he finally won, resulting in an exhausted Cheng, lying on the turf gasping for air. For Ross's best friends, this is a normal occurrence; the kid will just not accept defeat.

A little over a year ago, Ross was faced with a more serious challenge than a race against his former counterpart; he snapped a bone in his foot during a conditioning drill at USC summer camp, just as he was starting to crack into the depth chart.

Unfair was the only word that came to my mind when he broke the news to me. How could this kid, who has been the biggest underdog on the Trojan roster since he chose turn down offers from lesser schools, such as Rice and Southern Methodist University, to attend the school as a walk-on in 2011, get dealt such an injury at such a crucial time?

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