SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Justyn Ross balled out in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game Monday night.
Second-ranked Clemson dominated top-ranked Alabama in Levi’s Stadium, cruising to a 44-16 victory. The Tigers claimed their second national title in three years and handed Nick Saban his largest loss as the head coach at Bama.
Ross grew up and played his high school ball in Phenix City, Ala., and was highly recruited by the Crimson Tide. But, he chose to play for Dabo Swinney and to be a Tiger.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has not seen a player as technically advanced at wide receiver in his years of coaching that position group. The physicality and stature are beyond his years as are his knowledge and understanding of route-running.
“It’s pretty special to see what he was able to do this year as a freshman and how humble he is and how he went about his work and the development of he and Tee (Higgins) this year,” Swinney said.
The freshman just plain went off in the playoff hauling in 12 catches for 301 yards and three touchdowns on college football’s biggest stage. In the Cotton Bowl he racked up six receptions for 148 yards and two touchdowns. And, in the national championship he caught six passes for 153 yards and a touchdown.
Not only are the numbers impressive, but the plays themselves are mind blowing. Ross is practically a walking highlight reel. In the third quarter he secured an over-the-shoulder catch for a first down on a third-and-12 he followed it with the SportSCenter No. 1 play, a one-handed snag with a toe-touch for a first down.
Swinney was not surprised to see Ross’ incredible catches and highlights on Monday because he has seen it all season and in practice.
“He made a catch in camp that – I mean, he hadn’t even played a game, and he was like on ESPN from one of our scrimmages,” Swinney said. “Those plays come natural to him,” Swinney said.
Freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence agrees with his coach and has been impressed with Ross’ ability since the first time they practiced together.
“I was watching ESPN last night after the game and saw the replays probably five or six times,” Swinney said. “He’s an amazing player, like Coach Swinney was talking about, we’ve got a lot of guys that do stuff like that, but obviously he’s special,” he said.
Clemson has a lot to look forward too with young talent on offense like Ross, but for now they will enjoy their time on top of the college football mountain.