The football career of Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross is in doubt following news of congenital fusion in the sophomore's spine. However, Ross remains optimistic about his future.
Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney told ESPN's David M. Hale an X-ray uncovered the condition after Ross suffered an injury during the team's final practice before the coronavirus pandemic forced team activities on hiatus.
Ross will undergo surgery in Pittsburgh on Friday. Surgeon Dr. David Okonkwo told Swinney he's "optimistic" Ross will be able to return to the field, though the coach said he is "unaware" of any player playing again after this type of procedure.
The wide receiver seems to share his surgeon's outlook:
Ross burst onto the college scene with a stellar freshman season, notching 46 receptions for 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns as Clemson won its second championship in three years.
In 2019, Ross became a top target of quarterback Trevor Lawrence, hauling in a team-high 66 catches—seven more than teammate Tee Higgins and nearly twice as many as anyone else on the team. Though he finished with 865 yards in his second season, Ross still added another eight touchdowns.
A four-star recruit out of Alabama, according to 247Sports.com, Ross was considered the No. 1 player in the state for the Class of 2018 and the No. 7 wideout in the country at the time of his commitment to Clemson. At 6'4", 205 lbs., the wideout held offers from Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State and Notre Dame before choosing the Tigers.
"He feels perfectly fine," Swinney told Hale, "but doctors know he's at risk."
Swinney says if Ross is able to heal as expected, he'll need to decide between another year of college or testing his luck at the NFL combine.