Swinney says receiver Justyn Ross is "just one of those guys"
|Tuesday, May 28, 2019, 8:20 AM- -|
Ross put together a solid freshman campaign last season but saved the best for last. In two games in the College Football Playoff, Ross had a combined 12 catches for 301 yards and three touchdowns against No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 1 Alabama. Despite not starting a single game, he led Clemson with 1,000 receiving yards, including nine touchdowns among his 46 receptions.
He joined Sammy Watkins (1,219 in 2011) as the only players in school history to post 1,000 receiving yards as a freshman.
Ross shines in the physical part of the game, but Swinney says he is also tough mentally.
“Sometimes you get a guy that as a freshman is really, really talented and it’s very obvious to see that. But there is a whole lot more to it than just being talented,” Swinney said. “The mental aspect of it is huge. And then the technical and fundamental part of it is huge. And then there is the grind of it because you have to transition from high school to a freshman in college – the physicality and the speed of the game and all those things. But occasionally you get a guy that is a Sammy Watkins, a Justyn Ross or a Trevor Lawrence. And from the day they get here, it’s amazing.”
Swinney said the coaches could do all of the necessary work in recruiting to make sure they’re getting the kind of player they want but never really know what they’re getting until that player gets on campus.
“You never really know as a coach, until you start coaching that guy, how they are going to transition to the speed of the game and the physicality of the game,” Swinney said. “And how they are going to handle all of the installations, the mental processing of everything and the speed with which you have to do it at this level. Justyn Ross is one of those guys who took to it like a fish to water.”
Swinney knew Ross was different after the first day of fall camp.
“The day he got here, I told our wide receivers coach (Jeff Scott) he would be one of those guys. He took coaching, and then once you taught him something, he was quickly able to do it,” Swinney said. “That is what separates some players. Sometimes it takes guys a little bit longer. And then by the time the end of the year got here I thought he was as good a receiver as there was in the country. And he didn’t even start for us, he was a backup and had a thousand yards. I’ve only had one other freshman to do that, and that was Sammy Watkins.”
The last time the nation saw Ross, he was torching Alabama with six catches and 153 yards, all of which came with most of a quarter still to play, in Clemson’s 44-16 win over the Crimson Tide in the National Championship game.
During the 2018 recruiting cycle, Ross was the No. 1 player in the state of Alabama and highly coveted by Nick Saban’s program. Instead, Ross chose Clemson and had the night of his life against his home state team.
“It was a pretty cool moment for him, being from Alabama, to have the type of game he had on that stage at that moment. It was incredible,” Swinney said.