Clemson star wide receiver Justyn Ross missed the entire 2020 season with a neck and spinal injury. Ross had to have surgery to repair a congenital fusion in his spine, and his return to football was uncertain. However, Ross returned to the field in week one against Georgia.
Ross finished the game with four catches for 26 yards in Clemson’s 10-3 loss, where Clemson failed to generate much on offense.
In order to make his return, Ross relied on his faith, family and work ethic. "My mama, she always told me keep that faith, always told me I'm in God's hands," Ross said. He assured reporters that he never doubted this return: "I ain't got no piece of fear in me. It was hard, just the not knowing part… I shed a tear… This is something I've been working for my whole life.” “I ain't going to lie. There was never a plan B."
Ross had the option to enter the 2021 NFL Draft but chose to return to Clemson. The 2018 freshman All-American is looking to build upon his resume and help the Tigers win a championship.
Ross’s presence has been beneficial for everyone on the team, especially the other receivers. When speaking on Ross’s return, Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliot said, "Leadership has been critical. He encourages other guys to come into their own. I think that was the biggest thing that changed, when they saw him running around, they knew, ‘our alpha dog, our leader is back.’ Before that, nobody had really established themselves as the guy. It's upped the intensity level. They walk around with more confidence because they know who their leader is. It challenges them to challenge him, and it brings everybody up to another level."
Ross’s return will help boost the Clemson offense after losing their top pass catchers from last season, Amari Rodgers and Cornell Powell. Coming into this season, Ross's career numbers tallied 112 catches for 1,865 yards and 17 touchdowns.
While Clemson’s offense looked dormant against the Bulldogs, it was expected to be a challenging week one matchup. Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei and Justyn Ross are playing for the first time together, and the entire offense needs to mesh together. Ross will be a key factor as the Tigers look to rebound from the loss and make another push for the College Football Playoff.