WEIRTON - Ross Comis knew the answer after his junior year.
"When I was really young, in whatever sport I was playing, I was always dreaming about that sport, whether it was the NFL or MLB or NBA," he said. "When I was in the eighth grade, it was between basketball and football.
"I juggled everything my freshmen and sophomore years, but after my junior year I realized that football was it, if I wanted to do something in college.
OFF TO COLLEGE — Weirton Madonna senior Ross Comis, flanked by his parents, Lou and Lisa Comis, will continue his academic and athletic careers at the University of Massachusetts, where he will major in sports management, minor in communications and be a member of the football team. Also on hand for the signing were, from left, assistant basketball coach Mike Hagg, head basketball coach George Vargo, football defensive coordinator Brad Kessel, Athletic Director Jon Kendrick and Principal Steve Grasser.
-- Mike Mathison
"I knew I was good enough to do it. I just needed a chance."
That chance has come as the Weirton Madonna senior signed his National Letter of Intent Wednesday to continue his academic and athletic careers at the University of Massachusetts.
"I am so thankful that coach (Mark) Whipple has given me this opportunity to play college football at the next level," said Comis.
But, it didn't come easy.
"I thought this was going to be easier," said Comis, who will major in sports management and minor in communications. "At quarterback, no one thought that I could do it, but it's been my goal. I know that if I was given a chance, that's all I needed. I always told myself that if I was given a chance, I would show what I could do.
"It's my dream and I have the opportunity to chase my dreams.
"I know it's far away and I won't have a lot of chances to come home, but if I were at Pitt 40 minutes away, I still wouldn't have many chances to come home with all that's going to be going on, playing football and studying.
"I knew that me not going to camps in the summer hurt me. In camps, in my mind, I get overlooked because there are people there who are 6-3, 6-4 and I'm not that. Plus, they (coaches) don't see what they (the other quarterbacks) do on the field. He can run and has a great arm, but what happens on the field?
"I knew that it would hurt me. If they look at my film, they know I can play, but I'm 6-1. They ask, 'Can this guy really play?' And, I know I can.
"I wanted to spend my summers with my family and playing football and basketball - being with my teammates. I wanted to focus on my game on the field rather than at camps.
"I take a lot of pride in going on vacations with all my cousins and my family. It's a lot of fun to be around them and I'm not going to get that time back.
"If someone was going to find me, then they were going to have to find me on the field."
And, it wasn't hard finding him on the field, although tackling him was far more difficult.
Under head coach Doug Taylor, Comis accounted for 9,255 total yards and 122 touchdowns in three seasons. He was a first-team all-state selection in 2012 and the all-state offensive captain in 2013.
He led Madonna to a 14-0 record and the West Virginia Class A state championship, one year after losing in the final in overtime.
It was the third undefeated state title for the Blue Dons, the second to go 14-0.
"That feeling of accomplishment, that we finally did it, was great for everyone on our team," he said. "Last year (losing in the final) was difficult, but finally climbing over it, was a great feeling. Obviously, God had a different plan for us.
"The seniors are so close together. It's going to be difficult being away from them - it really is. We have been playing together for a really long time. We're going to have to have a reunion every summer, or something like that, because I am going to miss being around them."
Comis, who owns championship rings in football, basketball and baseball, still isn't sure if he will play baseball because of what may come about for his preparations to be a member of the Minutemen football program.
He does know, though, he is looking forward to spending more time on the basketball court.
"This basketball season means a lot to me because, most likely, it will be my last time competing with my lifelong friends," he said. "I think we are good enough to go down to states. We have streaky games where we play bad and they play really well or go 19-for-61 against Wheeling Central.
"We know we can play, we just have to put it together and there is time for us to do that. I know we have the talent to do so. Our section is so tough. We have three teams in the top 10 in the state."
UMass is getting an athlete who has started since Day 1 as a freshman at Madonna.
"It's a great opportunity to have the chance to play as a freshman at UMass," said Comis. "I have to to come in with a mindset to compete harder than I ever have. If I come and win the job,m then that's awesome. But, if I don't and get redshirted, that's fine as well. I will still have four more years.
"I think it's a big advantage to have played three sports at Madonna. I've had the opportunity to play in certain pressure situations that you don't get just practicing one sport year around."
One of those situations came Tuesday as Comis hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to defeat Oak Glen.
He knows he did not reach this point alone.
"I want to thank my family, my mom and dad are my biggest supporters and I wouldn't be able to be the young man I am without them," he said. "I want to thank my sister (Leah) and brother (Lou). My brother has taught me whatever I know and he's always been my No. 1 fan.
"I want to thank all my coaches, coach Taylor, coach (Bob) Kramer, coach (George) Vargo, coach (Jeff) Baire and all the assistant coaches who have had a hand in helping me develop to represent my family, this school and this community to the best of my ability.
"I want to thank all my teammates. I cannot imagine going through all of this for the past four years in high school without them. Like I said before, I am really going to miss them. This senior class has worked really hard to achieve what we have achieved.
"I want to thank everyone who has had a hand in my development and maturation over the years.
"Most important, I want to thank God for all that he has done for me. Without him, none of us are anything. He put me in this spot. All along, it's crazy to think that he knew that UMass was going to come through.
"I am blessed to have this opportunity. I can't picture myself anywhere else."