Dabo Swinney believes Justyn Ross is going to play football again. He just does not believe it is going to happen this year.
“That has never been in consideration. I know some people have speculate on that, but that has never been in the equation,” Swinney said Sunday during a Zoom press conference call to preview next Saturday’s ACC Championship Game against No. 2 Notre Dame. “Our goal was to get him back for spring practice if he came back. He still can, if they clear him, he could go pro.
“So, our goal if he came back here, was to get him out there for spring ball and he be cleared … kind of the Mike Williams plan. Mike went through spring. We did not let him get tackled or things like that, then he came back and had a great year. So, that is our plan for him if he comes back. But he still has to make that decision.”
Ross flew to Pittsburgh last Tuesday (Dec. 8) to get an update on where he is at in his recovery from spinal surgery he had back on June 5. His visit with Dr. David Okonkwo, his neurosurgeon, was a positive one according to Swinney.
The Clemson wide receiver is still waiting on couple of pieces of information before he can be cleared to play again.
“It was a very positive trip,” Swinney said. “Basically, where he is right now, there are two big boxes that have to be checked for them to say, ‘Alright! Go get it!’ But I think they were very pleased with what they saw.”
The first box the doctors want to check off comes from the test Ross was put through which basically measured his movements before surgery and now post-surgery.
“They were very pleased with the healing of the area,” Swinney said. “It is still not quite a hundred percent, but it is ahead of what they could have expected. So, I think, that first box, he is in a pretty good place and then I just think they want to see one hundred percent healing when he goes back.
“But it was very positive and we’re very thankful for that.”
Swinney said Ross is in good spirits and hopes everything will continue to move forward for the junior in a positive way.
“I just can’t say enough about Dr. Okonkwo and the job he has done,” the Clemson coach said. “He is an amazing doctor and Justyn has a lot of confidence in him and he has a lot of confidence in himself. Again, if y’all could see Justyn every day in practice, it is unbelievable. He does everything except get tackle. He looks great in practice and doing all the things they allow him to do. He is in full pads and, again, he does not get hit or anything like that. He is not in any competitive situations. He does all the routes and drill work and those types of things.
“He looks great. But his injury is one we are going to be very cautious with, and hopefully, he will keep moving in a very positive direction and he will get a full release somewhere in the near future.”
That future could be sometime after the first of the year. Or at least, according to Swinney, that is when Ross possibly could be meeting with Dr. Okonkwo to get another update on his progress.
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