Washington receiver John Ross set a record in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine Saturday.

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Friday, former University of Washington standout receiver John Ross smiled when asked if he thought he had a chance to break a nine-year old record for the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine and said “I’m going to try.”

Saturday morning, in a seeming blink of an eye, Ross’s try turned into combine history as he recorded a time of 4.22, breaking the mark of 4.24 set by running back Chris Johnson in 2008. Ross, who in a happy coincidence was given jersey number 42 for his workouts here, set the record on his first attempt and told the NFL Network he was cramping in his calves before his run. Ross then decided not to bother with his second attempt.

One had proven plenty good enough.

“I felt good,” Ross told the NFL Network. “I felt tight at the end but it felt good coming out so I knew it was probably going to be pretty quick.”

Ross already was regarded as a likely first-rounder and considered one of the top three receivers in the draft, with his speed his most defining attribute, and the record-setting time should only enhance his status (he also had broad jump of 11 feet, one inches and a vertical jump of 37 inches, also among the best marks of any receiver).

In an interview with the NFL Network after the 40-yard dash record became official, Ross remembered the dark days of 2015 when he sat out the season due to a torn ACL and briefly wondered what his football future held.

“I’m just thankful beyond measure, blessed and just really happy to be in this situation,” Ross said. “Remember, two years ago I was sitting on a couch for a whole season, torn ACL, and now to be in this situation I’m just really thankful.”

In a promotion staged by Adidas, the shoe company promised an island if someone at the combine broke the record wearing Adidas shoes.

Ross, though, wore Nike and didn’t seem too bothered he hadn’t acquired some real estate for his quick travel across the turf Saturday at the home of the Indianapolis Colts.

“I really can’t swim that well,” Ross said. “And I don’t have a boat. So I had to run in Nikes.”

Ross’ previous best time was a 4.25 at the Husky combine last year and he had said Friday that he had been routinely running under 4.3 in workouts.

The record time came as no surprise to Ross’ Husky teammates.

UW defensive lineman Elijah Qualls said he thought Ross might run an even faster time.

“I told everybody I knew he was going to break it,” Qualls said. “I honestly thought if he was everything 100 percent right and he went to the right training facility he would break 4.2. I heard a couple of stopwatches got him in 4.1. So I wasn’t surprised by that at all.”

Shortly after the run, Johnson tweeted:

Ross’ run also was the talk of media interviews conducted later in the day with defensive players. Maybe the best reaction came from Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, often projected as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

As Garrett’s session wrapped up and reporters were told there was time for one more question, Garrett was asked about Ross’ times.

“Dang,” he said with a smile, then turned and walked off the podium.

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, though, said the value of Ross’ time could be fleeting

“I love John Ross,” Mayock said. “His tape is great, so when you compare that and put the speed on top of it. …”

But Mayock then noted Ross’ past knee issues as well as an upcoming shoulder surgery on March 14 and said the one down note to what happened Saturday is that Ross couldn’t finish all of the drills due to his cramps.

“The issue for me is medical,” Mayock said. “That’s going to be a theme for him going forward.”

And the record, Mayock said, wouldn’t change what NFL teams think of Ross.

“It didn’t help him because we all knew he was fast,” Mayock said.

But just in case someone had forgotten, Ross delivered a record-setting reminder.


Ross’s run took the rest of the football world by storm, too.