INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — One word comes to mind when Van Horn football coach William Harris talks about Shaun Ross — athlete.

During the 2018 season, the senior quarterback was an escape artist when he had the ball. There would be times he would escape a pass rush when four or five players were in the backfield. His athleticism was a big reason for his success as he led Van Horn to a 7-4 record.

That athleticism landed him five college offers as all were seeking to move him to a different position. On National Signing Day Wednesday, Ross signed his letter of intent to play at NCAA Division II Fort Hays State, where he will be converted into a defensive back.

He also had offers from Missouri Southern, Oklahoma Baptist, Missouri Valley College and Texas A&T.

"Coach (Chris) Brown's personality was really outstanding," Ross said of the reason he chose Fort Hays State. "I believe in the coaches. And they win (the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association) conference all the time, so I figured, why not?"

Harris said Ross' college choice was a good one.

"They are a good program," Harris said. "They've been up the last two to three years. I know a couple of guys on the staff. It's a good staff and a good spot for him."

With the Falcons, Ross excelled as a ball carrier. While throwing for 565 yards, he did most of his damage on the ground as he netted 1,022 yards on 76 carries and scored 13 touchdowns. His efforts earned him Class 4 third-team all-state athlete honors from the Missouri Football Coaches Association.

Despite Ross not playing defense this season for the Falcons, Brown said he's confident that he can help make the Van Horn senior a good college cornerback. Ross said he's looking forward to the challenge.

"(Defensive backs) Coach (Steven) Dudley came to me and told me he could train me to play any position they need me to play because I am athletic enough to get by," Ross said. "I am looking forward to it a lot. I have great footwork and it's just learning how to use your hips. The coach there can teach me to play it very well. I am open to it."

Added Harris: "I am eager to see how he progresses at that position. He's athletic to do it. He can do it, he just has to have the mentality."

While there is a good possibility Ross will redshirt his first year at the school in Hays, Kansas, he's not ruling out the possibility of starting as a true freshman.

"That's the plan," Ross said of redshirting his first year. "But if I go out there and I am a straight dog, then I don't know about redshirting. But I want to get bigger first and let the older people play before I do it myself."