After starting out with a bang, Justyn Ross’ career at Clemson didn’t quite end the way many expected it would.
A congenital condition in his spine that required surgery forced him to miss his entire junior season. Then after his much anticipated return, an inefficient offense and an injury really limited Ross in his senior season. However, he still managed to lead the team in catches (46) and receiving yards (514).
That freshman season, though, made him a legend at Clemson. His epic performances against Notre Dame and Alabama in the 2018 College Football Playoff played a huge role in the Tigers’ third national title.
Growing up in Alabama, Ross felt a ton of pressure during the recruiting process. Everyone wanted him to stay home, but there was something about the Clemson program that drew him in. Coming in he had a chip on his shoulder, much of it due to the fact that he felt he had something to prove.
“I feel like coming in, I had to prove a point, just because I was leaving the state,” Ross said recently on Tailgate: An NFL, Draft & College Football Podcast. “Everybody had doubted me, for real. Everybody wanted me to go to Bama and everything like that. So, I feel like I had to prove a point.
“It was a little shaky, for real, just because of being an in-home guy. Clemson was in my top three schools; Alabama, Auburn and Clemson. So, with Clemson being the only out of state (school), it was a little shaky just with the pressure from the in-state schools.”
With Ross now preparing for the NFL Combine, he is as sure as ever about his decision to play at Clemson. The star wideout feels as if playing for the Tigers, where the bar is set so high for receivers, has prepared him well for an NFL career.
“I feel like I just developed more mentally, just learning how to read defenses and stuff like that,” he said. “Because I feel like a dude like me, with a big frame like this, with all the tools, all you’ve got to do is be a smart player. So, I feel like I learned the game more mentally.”
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