Derrick Ross, the greatest rusher in AFL history, may have changed leagues. However, his dominance has stayed the same. How he’s contributed to the Jacksonville Sharks offense and putting them one step away from the first ever NAL championship should translate into winning the MVP trophy on Sunday, July 9.
Looking at statistics alone: Ross has nearly doubled his nearest opponent in yards (541 vs. Undra Hendrix‘s 289), more than doubled the touchdowns (25 vs Hendrix’ 12), leads the league in yards per carry (4.7), and is the only non-quarterback in the league in the top 10 in both yards per game (43.4, 10th) and total offensive touchdowns (25, 5th).
Stats aside, Ross has become an anchor in Jacksonville’s offense, especially since Tommy Grady went down with a season-ending injury in Week 6. Any time the Sharks are inside the red zone, rather than having to worry about receiver matchups or the defense covering a short space, Ross can get the ball and score. If you need an extra big body for a jumbo package, Ross is there.
Not only has he continued his legacy throughout his career into the NAL, but this season in particular has been key for three reasons: establishing himself to all of the newcomers, justifying staying with the team, and helping guide an evolving offense with major changes at quarterback and receiver.
Competing for best running back in the league wasn’t easy thanks to Hendrix leading High Country, but any debate was settled thanks to a 92-yard, four-score performance against Dayton to win Player of the Week. From there, Ross hasn’t looked back.
Ross also showed why he decided to stay with the team instead of continuing his career in the AFL. Right now, he is on the verge of winning his first league championship (he did play in two ArenaBowls with the Philadelphia Soul, but he lost both), as Jacksonville is about to close their best season in franchise history, entering the title game at 12-1.
As far as helping an offense, Ross was a steady man to help Damien Fleming adjust to a new team and league after playing in the IFL in 2016. Called into action against Monterrey, the two combined to lead the Sharks to 33 points in the second half of that win, and have only scored less than 40 points in a game twice since then.
Yes, this is a quarterback-driven league and sport. But, if you don’t have anyone behind you to help you out, defenders can quickly learn how to shut you down. With The Boss in the backfield, that doesn’t happen. That’s why he should be the inaugural NAL MVP.