If true freshmen were allowed to enter the NFL draft, Clemson receiver Justyn Ross would have been a first-round draft pick in 2019. At that time, he was coming off a 1,000-yard freshman season that culminated with six catches for 153 yards and a touchdown in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game against Alabama.
Unfortunately for Ross, the NFL doesn’t allow players to enter the draft until they’re three years out of high school, and since that great freshman year things have not gone according to plan: His sophomore year was solid but not spectacular, and then before his junior year he suffered a stinger in practice that led to medical testing that found a potentially serious congenital spinal condition that caused him to miss the entire season.
After missing a year, Ross played for Clemson again last season, but he had career-lows in catches, yards, yards per catch and touchdowns. He then shut the season down early to get surgery for stress fractures in his foot.
Combine all those issues, and Ross has gone from a player who looked like a lock for the first round to a player just hoping NFL teams will give him a chance.
“Once a team gets me, they’re going to get everything out of me,” Ross told ESPN. “I’m still that same player everybody knows.”
It’s unknown how many teams may have taken Ross off their draft boards because of his spinal condition, but he’s hoping at least one team will give him a chance to keep playing.