Clemson’s defensive line was already solid going into the fall, but its just gotten a tad bit better. On Wednesday, the football program announced that defensive end Justin Foster has indicated his intention to return to the Tigers for the 2021 season.
“I got a call the other day from Justin Foster, and he’s feeling a lot better and back training and has decided that upon further review he really wants to come back and play again,” head coach Dabo Swinney said in a Clemson statement. “I’m just really, really excited because I know he wasn’t in a good place mentally in January. I tried to talk him out of [moving on] then, but I did tell him, ‘Hey, if something changes, the door is open for you,’ and things have changed. He’s feeling a lot better. Like I said, he’s back training, and I think being away has really rekindled that fire for him.”
Foster previously announced his intention to step away from football on February 24th, following complications related to asthma and COVID-19. However this week, he informed the Tigers’ coaching staff of his intent to return to the team and resume training for the upcoming season.
“For me, the decision came when I went to Duke a couple weeks ago and the doctor was positive on me recovering in the near future,” Foster noted in the Clemson release. “In the next month or two, she thought I’d recover enough to compete at the college level, and she motivated me and said that if I wanted to play again, she’d encourage me to and support me and she would do the best she could to get me back healthy. She believed that I will be healthy and, for me, that was a big stepping stone.”
Prior to missing the 2020 season, Foster recorded 66 career tackles (17.5 for loss), 7.0 sacks, a pass breakup, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 756 snaps over 39 career games with 13 starts from 2017-19. In his first season as a starter in 2019, he earned an honorable mention All-ACC selection in addition to garnering All-ACC Academic honors.
Foster understands the challenges he faces in returning from Covid-19. “I’m not fully recovered but I’m recovered enough where I can work out, push myself and compete. I will have my highs and lows each day but I’m battling and feel I’m able to compete and come back.”
“It’s not often you get a call from a great player that you think is gone and he says he’s coming back, so just a great thing.” Swinney exclaimed. “And it’s great for Clemson because that gives us seven guys that have started back on our defensive line. Five guys that have started at D-end and two that have started at D-tackle. He’s a great leader with great experience and a really talented football player.”
Foster earned his degree in construction science & management from Clemson in December 2020.