Buoyed by his doctor’s confidence that he would make a full recovery from COVID-19, Clemson star defensive end Justin Foster announced Wednesday he is ending his pandemic-induced retirement after only a few months.
Foster, who earned All-ACC honorable mention in 2019, his first season in a starting role, missed the 2020 season after battling the virus in June of that year and later dealing with complications known as long-haul syndrome. He has asthma and allergies, as well.
On Feb. 24, as Clemson’s spring practice was getting underway, he announced he wasn’t coming back for his final year of eligibility. He graduated in December.
His football outlook changed in the last few weeks thanks to medical update, he said in a statement released by the school.
“I went to Duke (Medical Center) a couple weeks ago, and the doctor was positive on me recovering in the near future. In the next month or two, she thought, I’d recover enough to compete at the college level. … She believed that I will be healthy and, for me, that was a big steppingstone,” Foster said.
In a conversation with Tigers coach Dabo Swinney, Foster acknowledged not being sure he could regain the form that saw him rack up seven sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss in his career.
“(Swinney) said if you’re feeling better, even if you’re not 100 percent, you can start working with the team and we’ll build you up from there. He said, ‘You don’t have to play 60 snaps a game; you’ll just do what you can do,'” Foster told ESPN.
Said Swinney, “It’s not often you get a call from a great player that you think is gone and he says he’s coming back. He’s a great leader with great experience and a really talented football player.”