The last two and a half months have been some of the hardest times America has endured in a long time. First it was the COVID-19 pandemic, which put the country in fear with more than 100,000 deaths and almost shut down its economic structure.
Since then there have been tornadoes and floods throughout the country. Then last week, George Floyd, an unarmed man, was killed by a Minneapolis police officer for no reason, which has since sparked protests and, unfortunately, riots all across the country.
Back at Clemson, Dabo Swinney is just looking forward to seeing his players in person again. He has not been able to see, touch or hug his players, other than on a Zoom team meeting, since March 11 … the last day the Tigers practiced before leaving for spring break. They have not been allowed back on campus since.
“I think it is going to be the best thing for all of us to be together,” Clemson’s head coach said on Monday. “I don’t think that is going to be difficult at all. I think that is going to be a powerful help for all of us.”
But the bad news did not stop for Clemson on Monday. Swinney says wide receiver Justyn Ross is lost for the season due to a spinal condition that team doctors have learned he was born with. He has a congenital fusion, as well as a bulging disk, which he likely got from an injury he suffered during a spring practice prior to COVID-19.
Ross, who had to put off the surgery because of COVID-19, is expected to fly to Pittsburgh on Thursday and will undergo surgery on Friday.
“They [the players] all know about Justyn. They have all known for a little while,” Swinney said. “I addressed it with the team a couple of team meetings ago and so, they all know exactly what is going on there.”
Clemson players were officially supposed to return to the Clemson area on Monday as part of Phase 1 of Clemson University’s return-to-campus process, beginning pre-participation physicals with Clemson Sports Medicine. This physical includes a test for COVID-19, as well as an antibody test. Student-athletes must also complete a daily screening before entering facilities.
If the student-athletes pass these tests, then they will be allowed to begin voluntary workouts next Monday (June 8) at their athletic facilities. This is the first action the Clemson Athletic department has had since the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down on March 12.
“The team has been very good. We have been together,” Swinney said. “The meetings have been awesome. Our coaching staff has done an amazing job. We are further along mentally, right now, than we have ever been. Just because of our ability to be able to have all these football meetings that we have not been able to have.
“So, I think, all of it, that part has been good. But as far as everything going on in the world and everybody being at home, these guys are way past ready to see their brothers and to get back together and hopefully continue to move forward. And get back to doing what we love to do.”
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