Clemson has been everything Justyn Ross had hoped it would be since he stepped foot on campus in June to begin his academic and athletic career at the college level.
Really, it has been even better than the freshman wide receiver expected.
“It’s been that, and more,” Ross said. “I’ve grown to love Clemson since I’ve been here over these last four months.”
A former blue-chip recruit regarded as one of the top receivers nationally, Ross held offers from all over the country and was sought after by practically every elite program.
The former five-star prospect took his time with the recruiting process, waiting until after his mother returned home from a 10-month deployment in Kuwait to narrow down his recruitment, take his official visits and find the best school fit for him.
Ultimately, he decided to sign with Clemson over Alabama, Auburn and others on National Signing Day in February.
“It was a great recruiting process,” Ross reflected. “I took it really slow because my mom was gone. She wasn’t here. She was deployed overseas. When she got back, we kind of hopped right into it and went around. But it’s been a great process, and I’m very glad I picked Clemson.”
The Phenix City, Ala., native became the first top-ranked prospect from the state of Alabama to sign with Clemson, and just the second No. 1 prospect from Alabama who did not sign with Alabama since 2005.
Ross admits he still gets some good-natured ribbing back home for leaving the state and spurning Alabama’s Nick Saban to play for Dabo Swinney at Clemson.
“I don’t think that’s going to ever die down,” Ross said, smiling. “I don’t think that’s going to ever go away.”
Looking back, Ross says he couldn’t resist the pull of “Wide Receiver U,” while the atmosphere of the school and program was a big factor in his decision as well.
“Wide Receiver U, it had a part in it because as a receiver, everybody that goes here goes to the NFL,” Ross said. “So, I see it happening and I feel like I can be one of those guys. But it was more than just the Wide Receiver U. It was the environment and family-type culture they have here.”
Early on, Ross has been rewarded by his choice to play for the Tigers. Through the first six games of his career, the 6-foot-4, 210-pounder ranks fourth on the team in receptions (14), second in receiving yards (286), first in touchdown receptions (four) and first in yards per reception (min. two catches; 20.4).
Ross has caught touchdown passes in four of Clemson’s six games, including a 55-yarder at Wake Forest last Saturday, a 53-yarder at Georgia Tech on Sept. 22 and a 57-yarder vs. Georgia Southern on Sept. 15. His first career reception was a 15-yard touchdown in his college debut vs. Furman on Sept. 1.
Even Ross has been amazed by the major impact he has made already for fourth-ranked Clemson (6-0, 3-0 ACC).
“Me and Lyn-J (Dixon) talk about it all the time,” Ross said. “We’re kind of still surprised, like don’t even think it’s real, how much of an impact we’re making here, just because it’s a top-five team and we’re freshmen. We just got on campus this summer.”
Thanks to his immense talent, dynamic ability and advanced understanding of Clemson’s playbook, Ross has already been on the field for 107 snaps through six games this season.
“I wasn’t too much worried about playing time when I first got here because I knew I had a lot to develop on and get ready for,” Ross said. “But I kind of developed faster than I thought I would, and it’s great. I love it here. I love winning.”