Clemson DE Justin Foster Retires Due to Asthma, COVID-19 Concerns

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIFebruary 25, 2021

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is sacked by Clemson defensive end Justin Foster during the first half of a NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, in New Orleans.(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Clemson Tigers defensive end Justin Foster announced his retirement from football Wednesday because of complications with asthma following a COVID-19 diagnosis. 

Justin Foster @Fosterkiddddd


"Today is a difficult day for me, but it is also a day of reflection and gratitude," Foster said in a statement poster on Twitter. "With sadness but no regret, I have decided it is in my best interest to call it a career and hang up football."

The senior from North Carolina was unable to participate in the 2020 season but was an honorable mention All-ACC selection in 2019 after posting 41 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 15 games.

Foster was expected to start on the defensive line last year after recording 10.5 tackles for loss as a reserve in 2019. A history of asthma combined with the coronavirus' impact made that impossible. Instead, Foster spent the season consulting with medical experts.

"He had a very tough fall," Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney told reporters. "He's always had challenges with [asthma and allergies] but when he got COVID last summer, that really set him back."

Foster explained that he was born with asthma and allergies that can make it tough for him to breathe in normal conditions. Contracting the virus "made for a severe difficulty to perform physically" and his focus is now on his long-term recovery. 

"This decision came after months of recovery and treatment," Foster wrote. "Which required asking a lot of difficult questions regarding my future."

Tigers defensive lineman Xavier Thomas also tested positive for COVID-19 last spring and was forced to miss part of the season as he recovered. 

Swinney told reporters he was disappointed in Foster's decision and offered to keep him on the team if he became healthy enough to return to the field. According to Swinney, Foster declined and has a job opportunity available to him outside of Clemson.