Marvin Gross doesn’t look like a defensive end.
His tall, lanky body is the build of a wide receiver’s, which is a position he’ll play on offense. But the junior has talked his way into playing primarily at defensive end despite his size—6-foot-4 and 203 pounds.
And Gross has done everything and more this season to help lead Dunbar’s defense to dominance. In 12 games, counting the regular season and playoffs, Gross has sacked the enemy quarterback 31 times. That’s an average of 2.5 sacks per game, which more than helps out with the pressure the front seven inflicts on opposing offenses.
If he’s not getting a sack, he’s usually close and forcing hurries. He prefers playing on the defensive side of the ball so he can hit quarterbacks.
“I just like hitting people,” Gross said. “As long as I can hit them, it’s cool. I like to hit.”
Gross has a scholarship offer from the University of Texas, El Paso, and Maryland has shown heavy interest. He said both schools are recruiting him for either side of the ball. It’s clear Gross would need to bulk up some to play defensive end at the next level, which is something that, ideally, he would like to do.
“He don’t look like he’s powerful, but that boy is powerful,” senior receiver Deontay McManus said. “He’s only a junior and he has one more year to go. (Baltimore City) is going to see a lot more of him.”
Gross recorded five sacks in Dunbar’s 42-6 drubbing of Overlea in the state semifinals. He also forced three hurries and was in Overlea’s backfield all game.
“My coaches told me to come out here and play my best,” Gross said. “It was a big game and Overlea was talking a lot of smack. I was trying to play my best and it showed with the five sacks.”
He cites Dallas Cowboys defense end Demarcus Ware as his favorite NFL player, and it’s easy to see why. Ware plays relentlessly on the edge and possesses pure speed. Gross uses his speed to his advantage and works hard to improve his game. He spent the offseason focusing on his footwork to help beat his man off the snap.
“He’s rolling, he’s a hard man to block,” coach Lawrence Smith said. “He’s not just a pass rusher, either. He knows how to break down and stop the run also. Marvin does a great job in everything he does.”
Getting 31 sacks in a single season is unusual at any level of football. Gross’ accomplishment hasn’t gone unnoticed by his teammates.
“Marvin Gross is amazing,” linebacker Lavar Highsmith said. “If I don’t make the tackle, Marvin makes the tackle. I love playing on the side with the man. He’s my brother and he has my back, just like I have his.”
by Jason Butt