Clemson DE Justin Foster returning after initially retiring due to COVID-19 issues

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·3 min read

Justin Foster was ready to be done.

After a lengthy battle with COVID-19, something that left him with lingering symptoms for months, the Clemson defensive end opted to simply step away from football for good.

Yet on Wednesday, after some good news at a doctor’s visit, Foster is coming back for one final season.

“I stepped away from football for a short time not knowing if I would be returning or if I was completely done with football with my health and what was going on,” Foster said in a statement. “I didn’t think I would play again and didn’t know when I would get better, and from the predictions of the doctors I put my trust in, they didn’t know either. It could have been three months, four months, a year, two or three years. They didn’t know. 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.”

Foster stepped away due to COVID

Foster said in February that contracting the coronavirus and the lingering symptoms that came with it created “severe difficulty” for him to engage in physical activities — which is why he decided to be done.

He said at the time that his “situation has improved” and that he expected to recover fully, but that he didn’t think playing football again was possible.

“He had a very tough fall. COVID was a very tough thing for him. Justin has always battled asthma and allergies. He’s always had challenges with that. But when he got COVID last summer, that really set him back,” coach Dabo Swinney said in February. “He’s way better than he was back in August but he’s still working through that.”

Foster recorded 41 tackles, 10.5 of which were for a loss, and 4.5 sacks in 2019. He sat out all of 2020 due to the coronavirus and said that he's not fully healthy yet — but he's ready for the challenge. 

“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 said in a statement. “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 … I’m excited about it.

“I’m going to go out there and work hard each day and feel like I’m starting from the bottom, getting back in shape, getting back where I want to be and compete and fight each day to get ready for the season.”

Justin Foster reacts after making a play on defense in the first half against LSU in the College Football Playoff national championship game on Jan. 13, 2020 in New Orleans. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Justin Foster reacts after making a play on defense in the first half against LSU in the College Football Playoff national championship game on Jan. 13, 2020 in New Orleans. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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