Justyn Ross received a valuable lesson through a great opportunity that his offensive coordinator hopes he takes to heart.
Following his sophomore season, the Clemson receiver, who wasn’t eligible to enter the NFL draft yet, was one of the college football players selected to attend the NFL Scouting Combine to shadow what the future professional players go through.
“He had an opportunity to go up to the combine as one of those guys who gets to see the combine before it happens for him, and he realizes that if you want to be a pro, you got to start preparing like a pro now,” OC Tony Elliott said. “If you don't know how to be a pro by the time you get there, it's almost too late.”
Ross is destined to play at the next level, but he’s still not a finished product in college.
The Phenix City, Alabama, native had a monster run at the end of the 2018 season, racking up 301 yards and three touchdowns in two playoff games, including the national championship win over Alabama.
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He led the team in receiving yards as a true freshman, but his sophomore season wasn’t quite as electric. Ross was first in receptions with 66, but he finished with 865 yards in 14 games, seeing his average per catch drop from 21.7 in 2018 to 13.1 in 2019.
“I think that Ross realizes after going through two seasons that he's not necessarily where he wants to be,” said Elliot. “He's a guy that still has a ceiling. He still has a lot of potential to grow. He's very, very electric, very dynamic, but still has room to improve and to be polished.”
With new WR coach Tyler Grisham taking over for Jeff Scott and former star Tee Higgins taking off to the NFL, Elliott has asked both Ross and fellow veteran receiver Amari Rodgers to take bigger leadership roles. This offseason will be important for Ross, who didn’t quite get to complete spring ball.
The Tigers, who are suspended by the ACC from practicing because of Coronavirus threat, had nine practices. Ross had his spring derailed earlier than that after he suffered “stinger symptoms” last week during a practice. He participated but was held out of contact during Wednesday’s last workout.
Once he’s full-go in fall camp, Elliott plans on using him at multiple receiver positions during the season.
“Ross played the two (position) last year and he’s played the nine (position). With his experience, his knowledge, his route, running, his understanding, he's going to start out over there in the nine but we're also putting him into the field so he'll play some slot.”
Zach Lentz is a Clemson University alumnus who got his start working with the Tigers basketball team from 1999-2004. Now a resident of Orangeburg County, he reports on Clemson sports as a correspondent for The Times and Democrat. He also serves as a co-host of Solid Orange, seen at 11 p.m. Wednesdays on WACH FOX 57 in Columbia. He is editor of www.SI.com/college/Clemson
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