5-star receiver's Clemson choice surprises everyone, including himself
|Thursday, May 31, 2018, 7:01 AM- -|
Justyn Ross woke up early on the morning of February 7th, National Signing Day, and knew he had a tough and critical life decision to make. Would he choose in-state Alabama and stay close to home, or would he surprise everyone and decide to attend Clemson?
His decision was a surprise to many, including one Justyn Ross.
Ross is the 5-star wide receiver out of Phenix City (AL) Central who had offers from most of the major programs. Both Auburn and Alabama thought they had a shot at Ross, but it was Clemson that won the day.
Ranked the No. 1 recruit in Alabama and No. 7 wide receiver in the 2018 signing class, Ross has the mixture of size and speed that doesn’t come along often. Despite often facing double teams, Ross caught 37 passes for 730 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2017. The Under Armour All-American also had 38 receptions for 663 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior.
It is the first time the top-ranked in-state player in the 247Sports Composite left the state since Jameis Winston signed with Florida State in 2012.
Recruiting pundits spent the early part of National Signing Day giving their opinions on where Ross would win. Twenty-seven “Crystal Ball” picks had Ross going to Alabama, while just six had Ross choosing Clemson.
Ross didn’t know himself until that morning.
“Really that morning is when I made the decision,” Ross said of National Signing Day. “Whenever I went there (Clemson) it felt like it was home and they made me feel like I was a part of the family. I love the competition that will be there.”
Ross said Alabama turned up the heat late in the recruiting process. He took an official visit to Tuscaloosa on the weekend of Jan. 19-21 and visited Auburn from Jan. 26-28. Ross didn’t make a return trip to Clemson after a visit in mid-November, even though head coach Dabo Swinney visited Ross in-home the week before his decision.
"They (Alabama) were just showing a lot of love, calling me and stuff like that and me talking to them," Ross said. "I have a good relationship with them too, but it's all about my future.”
However, he still surprised himself with the Clemson pick.
“It was a surprise to everybody. It was a surprise to me while I was up there,” Ross said with a laugh. “I wouldn't change it for anything in the world. I love the family that I have there and I love the decision that I made. I kind of knew when I was going up on the stage but that morning when I woke up I really didn't know.”
What has life been like for Ross since making his decision?
“It's been good. I have been working out and preparing my body to be able to take the type of type of hits you take in college football and for the type of competition I will be facing,” he said. “I haven't really looked at the playbook but it won't be that hard for me, it's just learning all of the concepts.
“Really I am looking forward to that first practice and going against the best competition in the ACC. Coach Scott tells me to be ready to compete when I get there. Coach Scott told me that my position will be the 9-man.”
Ross moves into Clemson next month and will have a familiar face as his roommate.
“I move in on June 24th and Amari Rodgers will be my roommate,” he said. “Amari is really cool. He is really the one that persuaded me the most to go to Clemson.”