GREENVILLE, S.C. — Last week, Dabo Swinney said he soon will learn whether Justyn Ross is going to be cleared to return to the football field this season after missing all of 2020.
The standout wide receiver missed out on last season due to a congenital spine issue that required surgery in June of 2020. The issue brought uncertainty to Ross’ future in football and took a toll on him personally as it forced him to press pause on his athletic ambitions.
Ross opened up to The Clemson Insider Sunday about the process and whether his return is imminent during a name, image and likeness meet-and-greet at the Charleston Sports Pub in Greenville.
“It’s been hard, but my faith goes really big. I can’t really knock myself or be down because I know at the end everything will be alright,” Ross said.
Since the issue was discovered, Ross has been cleared to participate fully in non-contact drills and team workouts. But when asked by TCI if he received official word about his status for the 2021 football season yet, the uncertainty remained.
“Yeah, I’m waiting on Swinney to hit me (up) right now,” Ross said.
This past year has shown Ross football is a gift that can be taken away at a moment’s notice regardless of how much success one might experience on the field.
As he continued with the Tigers in a limited capacity in 2020, the All-ACC wide receiver used the lessons and new appreciation for football to speak to younger players and grow in his leadership development.
“It showed me that it can be taken away from anybody. You can be at the top one second and then the bottom at the next, so I’m grateful for everything,” Ross said. “I always say, ‘Don’t take it for granted.’ I tell the young boys to enjoy the whole process because it can be gone really fast.”
The hiatus from full contact football also allowed Ross to focus on rehabilitation and healing his body, as he prepared for a possible return to the gridiron.
“It has definitely had its advantages being able to sit out and let my body get right and study the game and becoming a student of the game, and I can definitely use that,” he said.
Swinney last Tuesday at the media outing in Clemson, they should have the process complete for Ross’ return to full contact “in the next few days.” He said the team and the university was still cutting through all the paperwork and making sure Ross’ return to play is clear and approved by all parties involved.
“Anytime you have a complicated medical issue like we had with Mike Williams and so forth and so on, there are always a lot of ‘I’s and a lot of ‘T’s and a lot of people that have to sign off on those types of things,” Swinney said. “So, I think we are at the finish line. We are very optimistic about that.”