Justyn Ross is expected to be back on the field this season, though Clemson plans to feature its star wide receiver in a new role.
Head coach Dabo Swinney said this week Ross is transitioning to the slot ahead of the fall, and while the All-American caliber player has the ability to line up at all three receiver positions, he would start in the slot if the 2021 season began today.
Count senior tight end Braden Galloway among those who are glad to see Ross in action again this spring after he missed all of the 2020 campaign following offseason surgery for a congenital fusion in his spine, which X-rays discovered after Ross experienced stinger-like symptoms after taking a hit in practice last spring.
It was uncertain whether Ross would ever be able to play football again, so Galloway appreciates having him as part of the offense again.
“Obviously, I played with him a little bit my freshman year, then not seeing him last year was very tough, obviously for him and for a lot of his close friends on the team,” Galloway said this week. “But it’s exciting to get him back out there.”
Ross enters 2021 having recorded 112 receptions for 1,865 yards and 17 touchdowns over 29 career games. The Alabama native shined as a true freshman in 2018 when he caught 46 passes for a team-leading 1,000 yards with nine touchdowns in 15 games, then followed it up with 865 yards and eight touchdowns on a team-high 66 receptions across 14 games in 2019.
Following the year off in 2020, Ross is still limited this spring as he works his way back but doesn’t look like he has missed a beat according to Galloway, who is confident Ross will excel at the 5-man (slot) position or wherever else the Tigers ask him to play this season.
“It’s obviously fun to see Ross back out there,” Galloway said. “Everybody knows what Ross is capable of, and he really can play any position. He can play 2, 5, 9 – it doesn’t really matter. He’s that versatile. He can run pretty much whatever route you need him to run. But it’s definitely been cool to see him back out there.”
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