Clemson receiver Justyn Ross, considered a first-round NFL draft pick next spring, will miss the upcoming college season due to a spinal condition uncovered after he was hurt at practice in March.

Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said Ross will have surgery on Friday because of a congenital fusion of vertebrae he has had since birth. Ross also has a bulging disc.

The condition was found after Ross apparently hurt his shoulder during a spring practice session before workouts were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I was shocked,” Swinney said

Ross is a 6-foot-4, 205-pound sophomore from Phenix City, Alabama, who led the Tigers with 66 catches a year ago. He first gained national attention as a freshman in Clemson's 44-16 national championship win over Alabama in January 2019 when he had six catches for 153 yards including a 74-yard TD.

Swinney said Ross seemed fine after his injury and told the coach he felt good at dinner that night. It was the next day when team trainer Danny Poole outlined what the X-rays had show.

Some NFL projections for the 2021 draft have Ross a top-10 selection. Swinney acknowledged that Ross will have a decision ahead next January if he feels he's ready to move on to the next level.

Swinney said doctors have given Ross a plan going forward about playing football after this surgery and the player is confident he'll return to the field.

“We all hurt for Justyn,” Swinney said. “Justyn’s been great and I expect him to be one of the best coaches we have on the sidelines because he loves those guys.”

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