Clemson inked a couple of outstanding prospects on Wednesday, National Signing Day, including Phenix City (Ala.) five-star wide receiver Justyn Ross.
Ross, the top-ranked prospect in Alabama, chose Clemson over in-state finalists Alabama and Auburn. He became the 17th and final member of Clemson’s 2018 class, joining Lee’s Summit (Mo.) four-star cornerback Mario Goodrich and the 15 players that signed during the early signing period in December.
Before Ross declared for Clemson during a nationally televised announcement Wednesday afternoon, The Clemson Insider spoke with Ross’s head coach at Central High School, Jamey DuBose, who detailed what the Tigers are getting in the future member of Wide Receiver U.
DuBose said it is “scary” to think of the potential that Ross has at the next level and beyond.
“They’re getting a guy that is a really great football player, but a great person, also,” DuBose said. “He knows how to really work hard. He’s a really dedicated guy on and off the field. He is focused and has got his priorities right. He’s a mature guy for his age. That’s why I think he’ll be able to go in and play quick. I’ve only had one freshman in my career play for me as a coach, and he’s been that only freshman. He’s a guy that has shown a tremendous amount of talent. He’s got size, he’s got speed, he’s got great hands and he really understands the game. He understands body position. He understands the ins and outs of what’s going to make him successful early, and his work ethic is the one thing that a lot of people don’t realize…
“With the ability that he has, to go work is going to make him even better. I think when he goes to the next level and he can concentrate on a trade and not play multiple sports and do things like that, I think he’s going to be a lot better football player. I think that’s scary in the sense of what he could become.”
Clemson prides itself on recruiting not just high-quality athletes, but high-character people as well.
Ross fits that mold perfectly according to DuBose.
“As a person he’s unbelievable,” DuBose said. “He’s the type of guy you want in your program. He’s the type of guy that you want being the pitcher of your program. Just how he’s handled this situation, you know… Justyn is a kind of guy that doesn’t say a lot. He performs. He does things by his actions. He’s not a rah-rah, talk guy. He’s going to be a guy that’s going to put on his hard hat and go to work every day, and going to be a successful young man. He’s been raised very well. His mom, his grandma, they’ve done a great job of raising him and getting him to where he is now. He’s a guy that when his spare time comes is not going to be out doing things he shouldn’t be doing. He’s going to be in his room or he’s going to be around the facility, and he’s going to be doing things to get better as a person and get better as a player.”
Ranked by ESPN and Rivals as the No. 1 prospect in Alabama, Ross is the first top-ranked player from the state to sign with Clemson and just the second No. 1 player from the state who did not sign with Alabama since 2005 (Jameis Winston, 2013).
Clemson accomplished a rare and impressive feat, to say the least, by pulling Ross out of Alabama and away from Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide.
DuBose said that is a testament to Clemson’s tireless work ethic on the recruiting trail, particularly with wide receivers coach Jeff Scott and area recruiter Todd Bates.
“Number one, the two guys that recruited him hit a home run,” DuBose said. “I’m going to tell you, if I was a head football coach, I’d want those two guys recruiting. They’ve done an outstanding job to be able to come into this state and be able to be in the three with Alabama and Auburn, and you’re the only one that’s left from outside the state. That tells me that they did an outstanding job with recruiting, and I’ve watched them and they did.”
Ross’s relationship with Clemson’s coaches was one of the key reasons behind his choice to pick up the Clemson hat on Signing Day.
“I think they’ve built a relationship, and I think Justyn is a relationship guy,” DuBose said. “He’s a guy that he’s got to trust you and you’ve got to be honest with him, and he’s got to see that. I think he feels very comfortable, and they’ve done an outstanding job of building that relationship of trust and friendship. Other guys have too at other universities, but to be able to get in on a kid in Alabama and do that from an outside school speaks volumes for those guys and what they’ve been able to pull off also.”
Several other factors played a role in Ross’s decision as well, including his relationship with five-star Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Clemson’s history of producing NFL receivers.
“I think he built some relationships with some other guys that are going there,” DuBose said. “I know he and Trevor Lawrence built a relationship at The Opening. He’s stayed in touch with some of those guys, and he enjoyed his visits there.
“Justyn, he’s a very smart man, and he’s looking at it from many different angles – the environment around, the facilities and the coaching staff, the style of offense and the players that are going there. You’re a wide receiver, and you’re going to a place that has put a lot of guys in the NFL. Number two, you’re looking at the quarterbacks that they’ve got in there. Over the last couple years, they’ve signed number one quarterbacks in the country, and they’ve got another one coming in now. Those are things as a wide receiver I think he’s looked at and he feels really good about.”
DuBose envisions Ross playing early and often at Clemson, and believes he will ultimately go on to make his mark in the NFL.
“I think he’s going to play early wherever he goes,” DuBose said. “He wants to, he’s determined to. He’s a guy that’s going to go in with a chip on his shoulder to prove that he can and he will. I see him getting in and feeling comfortable in an offense and in a location, and he’s going to begin to make a lot of plays.
“I see Jusytn, in three to four years, being in the NFL. I do think he’ll be there. He’s got all the makings for it. He’s got the body, he’s got the mind. He just understands it, and he’s got that what we call ‘it’ factor. I think he can do it, and he’s a very special young man. He’s a very special player, and I’m anxious to see him get to college. Again, it would not shock me to see him make plays next year – and a lot of plays – and I think he’s just going to get bigger and stronger and better as the years progress.”
Ross is ranked by Rivals as the No. 2 wide receiver and No. 15 overall prospect nationally.
As a senior, Ross recorded 37 receptions for 730 yards (19.7 yards per catch) and 13 touchdowns while also returning 14 punts for 383 yards and two more scores. He earned first-team 7A All-State honors and was named the 7A Back of the Year in Alabama.