Justyn Ross drew compliments from fellow wide receiver Hunter Renfrow on Friday night following the opening day of Clemson’s fall camp.
Ross, the first ever top-ranked player from the state of Alabama to sign with Clemson, had just wrapped up his first practice in a Tiger uniform. But one practice was all it took for Renfrow to recognize the freshman’s immense potential.
“He’s got a lot to work on, obviously. First day out here,” Renfrow said of Ross, who enrolled at Clemson in late June. “But he’s the No. 1 player in Alabama for a reason. He’s going to be very special here. He’s just got to take that next step obviously.”
Ross inked with Clemson over Alabama on National Signing Day in February, becoming not only the first No. 1 prospect in Alabama to sign with Clemson, but also the first top-ranked prospect in Alabama who did not sign with the Crimson Tide since 2005.
The nation’s No. 2 receiver in the 2018 recruiting class according to Rivals, Ross tallied 37 receptions for 730 yards and 13 touchdowns last season at Central High School in Phenix City, Ala. He was named the 7A back-of-the-year in Alabama, first-team all-state and was a finalist for Mr. Football as a senior.
Renfrow compared Ross to Clemson sophomore receiver Tee Higgins, who like Ross was considered a five-star recruit coming out of high school.
“Justyn is a really good player,” Renfrow said. “A lot like Tee as far as just ball skills and doing a good job getting off the press. He was the No. 1 player in Alabama for a reason, and we can certainly see that in practice.”
The 6-foot-4, 207-pound Ross adds another physical specimen to Clemson’s receiver corps, which also features physically imposing players like Higgins (6-4, 209) and Diondre Overton (6-5, 206).
The group presents a stark contrast to Renfrow, who checks in at 5-foot-10, 183 pounds.
“We were in warmup lines today and I was looking around, and I was asking, ‘Who’s taller?’ I think they said Justyn because of the hair,” Renfrow said, smiling. “But yeah, there’s some trees up there. I’m looking up there… I’m small. I’m like up to their chest. But it’s exciting to have such big guys and guys who can go get it done.”
Clemson’s receiving corps lost Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud to the NFL after last season, but gained Ross and fellow five-star freshman Derion Kendrick.
The newcomers joined a receiver group that includes a couple of seniors in Renfrow and Trevion Thompson, other veteran players such as Overton and Cornell Powell, and sophomores with early playing experience in Higgins, Amari Rodgers and T.J. Chase.
Renfrow knows that Clemson receiver greats of the past, such as Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins and Mike Williams, have set a high bar for the current wideouts to live up to. But according to Renfrow, this year’s group is simply focused on this year’s group.
“We’ve had some studs over the last five, six years with Sammy and those guys, and then Deon, Ray-Ray and Mike,” Renfrow said. “But we’re just trying to be the best that we can be as this wide receiver group. We can kind of look and say what that group did special, but we want to have our own identity and do some things well that the next group will talk about us.”
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