Justyn Ross: Being on the field with Tee Higgins will be "pretty hard for defenders"

by - Senior Writer -
Justyn Ross made an impact in the College Football Playoff
Justyn Ross made an impact in the College Football Playoff

CLEMSON – The Clemson coaching staff knew they wanted to get both Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins on the field at the same time during the College Football Playoff, and they went to four wide receiver sets and dropped the tight end in an effort to get Ross on the field.

The plan this spring is to find Ross a permanent home on the field. The coaches want to leave Higgins at the iconic 9-man spot (manned by everyone from Sammy Watkins to Nuk Hopkins to Mike Williams) and slide Ross over to the 2-man spot on the opposite side of the field.

Amari Rodgers, who played the 2-man last season, will move to the 5-man slot receiver position made famous by some guy named Hunter Renfrow. All three will see plenty of snaps at all the positions, with freshmen Frank Ladson, Joseph Ngata, and Brannon Spector adding to a depth chart that includes Cornell Powell, Diondre Overton, TJ Chase, and Derion Kendrick.

Ross finished with six catches and 153 yards and a score against Alabama and had six catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns against Notre Dame, setting the stage for what opposing defenses will have to contend with this season.

“I mean — I know it’s going to be pretty hard for the defenders now with both of us on the field at the same time,” Ross said last Friday. “It’s going to be a hard task, but we’re going to get it.”

Ross said that while he’s anxious to earn a starting nod, he can’t forget the lessons learned while watching Higgins last season.

“I had a lot of fun playing behind Tee, just learning. He taught me a lot of stuff,” Ross said. “I thank him for what he did. He taught me how to keep my confidence. There were times when I would get low. But he taught me to keep my confidence and wait my turn.”

Rodgers says he’s been picking the brain of Renfrow, wanting to learn the intricacies of playing the slot.

“Hunter has actually been here and stuff. He’s been in the facility,” Rodgers said. “I talked to him, and he said, ‘Just grind man. Just watch film and look at the little things with releases and just saying low.’ That’s the biggest thing — just staying low and just being explosive out of your breaks.”

Ross said the position changes and wealth of playmakers wouldn’t cause problems for the school they call Wide Receiver U.

“There is no selfishness in our receiving room, period. Everybody wants everybody to go out there and make plays,” Ross said. “I don't think that will be a problem. It's definitely the coaching that Coach (Dabo) Swinney and Coach (Jeff) Scott give us. This is Wide Receiver U, and you are going to have a lot of great receivers.”

Scott says that this might be the best group he’s ever coached.

“I feel like I say that every year and when you say it every year, you think, is it really true? Yes, it really is,” Scott said. “This is the first year we've had ten scholarship guys and all three of the first three groups are all doing excellent. It's a lot of fun out here. Every group that goes out there has an opportunity to make plays, so it's going to be fun.”

For Ross, however, it doesn’t matter who plays where. He simply wants to go out and chase another ring, saying last season’s championship is ancient history in his eyes.

“That was a whole different team. Now it's time for this team to go chase that kind of legacy,” he said.

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