CLEMSON — Dabo Swinney isn't on Twitter, and he is the first to admit he stays away from the whole social media scene. It's not his style.
But the Clemson football coach knows a viral post when he sees one, and around this time last week, there was a certain tweet sent out from the Clemson Football account that undeniably fit the bill.
In the tweet, the caption was simple:
"Everybody, this is Justyn," it read. "Justyn, this is everybody."
Then it attached a video of Justyn Ross, the Clemson freshman wide receiver, stunning the Clemson defense with a leaping, one-handed catch in traffic during a live Clemson scrimmage.
If the nation did not know much about Ross, the top player in Alabama that Clemson was able to poach from Nick Saban's backyard, that might not be the case anymore. The video got more than half a million views.
But according to Swinney, that one-handed snag was far from an isolated event. The human highlight reel that is Ross has been in full swing since the moment he stepped on campus this summer with his 6-4 frame and freakish athletic abilities. Take Clemson sophomore wide receiver Tee Higgins from a season ago and have him enter Clemson more developed — that's Ross.
"That's what he did in high school. He made plays like that all the time," Swinney said. "That's just a gift. He's incredibly blessed when it comes to his ball skills, but the other thing is he's an effort guy. He's got a motor. He plays at a full-speed tilt."
Ross' decision to attend Clemson came in somewhat stunning fashion back in February when he made his announcement official. Pundits in recruiting all assumed Alabama was the heavy favorite, and in-state Auburn was also in the mix, too. In a heartfelt letter he wrote and also narrated to his mother, though, Ross told her he was picking Clemson and later told his local media it was because of Clemson's reputation of funneling wide receivers into the NFL.
Because Ross did not enroll early, Swinney admitted he was not quite sure what to expect from the newcomer once he arrived on campus in June. But it became apparent quite quickly that he had a natural on his hands.
"I've had some guys really talented that I go, 'Oh boy, OK. This is going to take a little while to get them where they need to be,' " Swinney said. "He's one of those guys that's just very natural at a lot of things. The things that we need to correct and clean up, he's hungry for that coaching."
As it stands now, it seems Ross would be the natural backup to Higgins at the 9-man spot on Clemson's depth chart, and for his part, Higgins has loved mentoring his understudy.
Higgins particularly has been impressed with how quick Ross is off the ball as a true freshman, a trait he says he himself did not have a year ago. Higgins has also helped Ross with the things that might not come as naturally — like learning the playbook, something for which he cannot rely solely on his athleticism.
Should Ross put the pieces together mentally and physically, Clemson could be in a situation where it almost has too much star power at receiver, leaving co-offensive coordinator/receivers coach Jeff Scott to make some decisions.
"I would suggest Jeff's got a good problem," co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said.
"That guy (Ross) is a freak," Higgins added. "He is a freak."
That freak has now gone viral.