Justyn Ross, one of the most explosive players in the ACC, won’t play for Clemson during the 2020 season.
While speaking with the media on Monday, Dabo Swinney announced that Ross, Clemson’s star receiver, will have surgery on Friday. Ross received an X-ray after suffering an injury during spring practice, which revealed that he was born with congenital fusion — a spinal condition.
Ross feels fine, according to Swinney; however, he will not play this season for the Tigers. Doctors believe there’s a good chance that Ross could return to football, but that’s not guaranteed.
Breaking injury update from Clemson: Justyn Ross is going to have surgery Friday. When he had an X-ray after the spring injury, he learned he was born with something called congenital fusion. He will not play this season.
— Grace Raynor (@gmraynor) June 1, 2020
The 6-foot-4 Ross was a blue-chip recruit signed to Clemson’s 2018 class. It took Ross very little time to acquaint himself with college football and the end zone. As a freshman, he caught 46 passes for 1,000 yards and 9 touchdowns, while helping push Clemson to a 15-0 record and a national title.
Working with Trevor Lawrence, Ross dominated in the championship victory against Alabama: 6 receptions for 153 yards and a touchdown. This followed another dynamic performance against Notre Dame in the opening frame of the CFP: 6 catches for 148 yards and 2 touchdowns.
During the 2019 season, Ross teamed back up with Tee Higgins on the perimeter; he hauled in 66 passes for 865 yards and 8 touchdowns. In his two seasons in a Clemson uniform, the Tigers have gone 29-1.
This is a tough blow for so many reasons. A rising junior, Ross is a wickedly talented player and one of the top offensive NFL prospects for the 2021 NFL Draft.
As far as Clemson goes, the Tigers already parted ways with Higgins, who left for the NFL after three seasons. Clemson was already banking on a resurgent season from Amari Rodgers, who tore an ACL during spring practice in 2019. Rodgers will man the slot for Clemson, and he will be needed as a chain-mover on offense.
After catching a combined 26 passes (6 touchdowns) for 368 yards, rising sophomore receivers Joe Ngata and Frank Ladson Jr. will have their performance timelines accelerated. Ngata and Ladson were also blue-chip prospects, like Ross the year prior.
Joe Ngata and Frank Ladson are super talented but… 8 drops on 33 catchable targets beyond the line of scrimmage last year.
Overall reception% 44%
Ross/Higgins reception% 63%
— Hi, I’m David (@ADavidHaleJoint) June 1, 2020
With Higgins gone, those two were already expected to see increased usage; however, sans Ross, the standards will jump even higher. This will require more consistency from the young wide receivers.
The Tigers may also look to utilize star running back Travis Etienne more frequently as well.