Former Wolverines cutting coaching teeth in West Michigan

Roundtree, Ross helping out at GVSU, Hope
Former Michigan Wolverines cutting coaching teeth in West Michigan
Posted at 8:14 PM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-13 23:04:49-04

(WXMI) — A pair of former football standouts at the University of Michigan, Roy Roundtree and James Ross III are now calling West Michigan home.

The two former teammates and great friends are now cutting their coaching teeth here in our area.

Former Michigan football teammates reunited as West Michigan college coaches

"I grinded with him, he's seen me grind, I've seen him since I was playing in college, I saw his development," Roundtree said about Ross.

While they only played one season together (2012) in Ann Arbor, they were also graduate assistants together on the Michigan coaching staff.

Ross, Roundtree in 2012 Michigan team photo
Ross III (15) and Roundtree (21) in the 2012 Michigan football team photo.

The relationship between the two is more than just former teammates, they call each other family.

"That's my boy," Roundtree smiled, "he trusted me to hold his engagement ring to go to Paris, let that sink in."

Roundtree was hired as Grand Valley's wide receivers coach in March of 2020 as he continues to work his way up the coaching ranks.

Two duo had been graduate assistants together for a season at their alma mater before Roundtree moved on to become a position coach.

Ross remained a graduate assistant under Jim Harbaugh until Monday, when he accepted the linebackers coaching position at Hope College.

James Ross III
New Hope College linebackers coach, James Ross III.

Now, they're just miles apart.

"That made the decision easier," Ross III said when deciding which job to take, "he's family to me. Coming into close contact like that, even though we aren't at the same place, working close to my brother means a lot."

And the two have been in constant contact this week and already have been cracking jokes.

"He asked me for a barber yesterday, like dude, I'm bald, I don't need a barber, I cut my own hair," Roundtree laughed, "and he said, yeah I know you don't I'm just messing with you, so you can just tell our relationship is really tight."

Roy Roundtree
Grand Valley wide receivers coach, Roy Roundtree.

Ross says Roundtree eventually helped him out.

"I said yeah I know you already switched over and you're bald now but I'm new to this city, I need to know where a barber is and he ended up helping me out, but I gave it to him a bit for going bald," he laughed.

From making big plays in Maize and Blue, to now helping two outstanding programs here in West Michigan, Roundtree and Ross are ready to make a difference.

James Ross III, Roy Roundtree in Michigan playing days
James Ross III (top) and Roy Roundtree (bottom) during playing days at the University of Michigan.

"I'm always better to get better," Roundtree said, "that's why I challenge my guys and tell them, I'm going to put stress on you in practice because in a game I want you to play out there and know your details and assignment."

For Ross, it's his first position coaching position and he's focused on becoming the best coach he can.

"The first thing that kids and players have to have within their coach is trust, that's a big thing for me," added Ross, "if we have that trust and respect for one another and they understand I want the best for them, anything is possible at that point."