Dabo Swinney is hopeful defensive end Justin Foster still might play this season, but if he does not, Clemson still got some good news on Wednesday.
Foster recently told Swinney he wants to return to Clemson and play next year. Foster is currently listed as a junior on the roster.
“He is doing a lot better and he has made a lot of progress,” Swinney said. “Like I said, he has had some challenges, but things he has really worked through. He is such a great leader.
“The silver lining is we are going to get him back next year. That is a positive.”
Foster was expected to be one of the Tigers’ top returning defensive players this year. But his season has never got started. He has not played at all this season.
The defensive end was an honorable mention on the All-ACC team after he tallied 41 tackles while starting 13 of the 15 games he played in 2019. Foster finished second behind All-American Isaiah Simmons in tackles for loss with 10.5.
His 4.5 sacks ranked third on the defense last year. The defensive end also had 12 quarterback pressures, which ranked second behind Simmons as well.
In the Tigers’ Fiesta Bowl win over Ohio State in the College Football Playoff, Foster had one of the best games of his career. The 6-foot-2, 265-pound defensive end lived in the Buckeyes’ backfield most of the night. He harassed quarterback Justin Fields, while recording a half sack and 1.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He finished the game with five tackles. Foster also had a sack in the CFP National Championship Game against LSU.
“Sometimes great things happen out of adverse situations. You can just look at Cornell Powell,” Swinney said. “Cornell had to redshirt his third year and he was not real happy about it at the time. But without that redshirt he is not here this year and really doing what he is doing.
“So, obviously, I hate that Justin has not been able to play, but the silver lining is he is excited to come back next year and be the best version of himself. But he is hopeful. I mean it has just been a process for him this fall, but he is one of the best team leaders we have on this team. If there is any way he can get back and play, I promise you he will do it. It will not be from a lack of trying.”
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