Fred Ross' intrigue with the Oklahoma State football program began long before he ever had a scholarship offer from the team, or even visited the campus.
It began with a photograph on the wall of his coach's office when Ross was a freshman at John Tyler High School in Tyler, Texas.
The photo of a player in a No. 1 Oklahoma State jersey quickly grabbed Ross' attention. His favorite player, Dez Bryant, was wearing No. 1 at OSU at that time.
But the man in the photo was Ricklan Holmes, who finished his Cowboy career in 2002. During Ross' freshman season, Holmes was in his second year as a defensive backs coach at his alma mater, John Tyler, and he just finished his first season as the team's head coach.
“He saw that photo, and he had been looking up to Dez, so ever since then, he's been intrigued by OSU. He's been asking me about them ever since,” Holmes said. “I worked a football camp up there at OSU two years ago, and Ross came with me to go to the camp, so he got to see all the facilities.”
Bryant came from Lufkin, Texas, which is about 80 miles south of Tyler. Ross is cut from a similar mold at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds. And he has seen the star potential OSU creates for its receivers, especially recently with the likes of Bryant and Justin Blackmon.
“For me, it all started with Dez,” Ross said. “With him being from east Texas, I was always a Dez fan. And when I saw that photo of Coach Holmes, it just pushed things along.”
Ross is the highest rated recruit in OSU's 2013 class to this point, and heads a strong group of receivers, along with Dallas Skyline's Ra'Shaad Samples and East Wylie, Texas.
All three are expected to be in Stillwater this weekend for official visits, along with several other committed and uncommitted players, as the Cowboy staff prepares for signing day on Feb. 6.
Holmes says Ross' versatility, combined with his size, make him special.
“He's a great receiver with great hands, size, body control,” the coach said. “And he has the ball skills to go up and get the jump ball, too.
“But what he does when he's got the ball in his hands is what he makes his living with. He's amazing. He's going to fit in really well at OSU.”