Clemson star wide receiver Justyn Ross has been ruled out for the 2020 season as he prepares to undergo surgery on Friday, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney announced Monday in a press conference. According to 247Sports’ Anna Hickey, Swinney told reporters Monday that Ross has congenital fusion, which Ross was born with, and that showed up in an X-ray this spring. According to Swinney, there is no guarantee he can play football again in his career.
It was originally reported in May that Ross would be undergoing surgery in June. A Clemson spokesperson initially said the surgery was related to stinger symptoms that Dabo Swinney referenced on March 11 prior to Clemson’s spring break, a break that turned into a suspension of football activity related to COVID-19.
At the time, Swinney said Ross’s neck got banged up but that Ross was “perfectly fine.” Ross was showing slight “stinger symptoms” in the neck area and was limited in practice as a result.
The news comes as a significant blow to Clemson ahead of the 2020 season, as Ross was primed for perhaps his biggest year yet in a Tigers uniform this fall. Ross caught for 1,000 yards and 9 touchdowns during his first year with the program in 2018 — Clemson won the national championship that year — and followed it up with 865 receiving yards and 8 touchdown receptions in 2019 as the Tigers returned to the national championship contest.
Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott spoke about Ross during the early position of 2020 spring ball in March.
“I think that Ross realizes that after two seasons, he’s not necessarily where he wants to be,” Elliott said. “He’s a guy that still has a ceiling. He still has a lot of potential to grow as a wide out. Very, very electric and dynamic, but still has room to be polished and improve. With Tee (Higgis) moving on, Ross is naturally going to take that boundary spot, which is a little bit different than where he was at the field, so now he has to transition back there.
“He had the opportunity to go up to the NFL Combine as of the young guys that gets to see the Combine before it happens for him. And he realizes that if you want to be a pro, you’ve got to start preparing like a pro now. If you don’t know how to be a pro by the time you get there, it’s almost too late.”
A member of the Class of 2018, Ross committed to Clemson out of Central High School (Phenix City, Alabama) rated as a 4-star prospect and the No. 7 player nationally at his position, per the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Clemson football is scheduled to kick off its 2020 season at Georgia Tech on Thursday, Sept. 3.