Former walk-on Gross now star wide receiver for Hornets

Despite not starting until the sixth week of the season, Trey Gross led the Hornets in touchdown catches with seven, good enough to tie for second in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Gross was second on the team in receiving yards with 428 and third in receptions (27). Photo courtesy of DSU Athletics

DOVER — There’s a drill practiced by every football team called the jump-ball drill.

It’s pretty simple. A wide receiver goes against a defensive back and tries to catch a lobbed pass.

Last October, though, it brought Delaware State’s practice to a screeching halt.

Trey Gross, a freshman walk-on wide receiver, was catching everything. Different defenders were rotated in and out, but Gross always emerged with the ball.

Bewilderment soon turned to excitement.

“Everybody was scratching their heads, then they started going, ‘Put Trey in, put Trey in,” Gross recalled.

Gross, who began the season at the bottom of the DSU receiving depth chart, was thrust into the lineup for the following Saturday, Oct. 14 against Howard. On a third-and-long he was sent on a route past the first down marker.

“It was pretty much the same play we ran in the drill,” Gross said. “So I went up and caught it for my first catch and it was on from there.”

Despite not starting until the sixth week of the season, Gross led the Hornets in touchdown catches with seven, good enough to tie for second in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Gross was second on the team in receiving yards with 428 and third in receptions (27).

There’s one major difference about Gross as the Hornets go through preseason camp this year — no one can call him a walk-on anymore.

Gross was awarded a scholarship by former DSU coach Kenny Carter in the locker room after the home finale. In typical Gross fashion, he had caught a jump-ball in the corner of the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown with nine seconds left in a victory over Morgan State.

Gross, from nearby Annapolis, Md., had more than 20 family and friends in the stands that day. When he left the locker room, he found his parents to share the news.

They thought it was a joke.

“I said it so calm my mom didn’t believe me,” Gross said with a chuckle.

The video of Carter informing Gross in front of his teammates postgame went viral and was shared across various social media platforms hundreds of times.

While current first-year coach Rod Milstead was not around for Gross’ breakout season, he knew the type of player he was inheriting.

“Trey Gross is an amazing story,” Milstead said. “He just wanted an opportunity to prove himself and at the end of the season coach Carter rewarded him with a scholarship. I commend him for doing that because that young man is definitely a scholarship athlete.”

“It’s unfortunate that he got overlooked but that’s the nature of the beast and we’re fortunate to have him,” Milstead added. “His work-ethic and how he prepares for practice is amazing to watch. He’s setting the bar really, really high.”

Gross finished that Howard game with 154 yards on six catches and two touchdowns in one of the greatest debuts in DSU history. His 154 yards were the most by a Delaware State freshman in a single game since 1997.

While Gross may be at the top of the wide receiver depth chart now, he said he’s keeping the same attitude that helped him climb it so quickly.

“Every opportunity I got I took advantage of it,” Gross said. “Every time I got a play, I would run it to the best of my ability to show my talent as fast as possible. My teammates were vouching for me the entire time, so once I got the chance, I had to capitalize.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

New Delaware College Football and High School Sports Report newsletters are now available.
Visit the newsletters page to subscribe to both!

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.