Former Clemson starter giving up football after battle with COVID

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Matt Connolly
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A potential starter on Clemson’s defensive front is moving on from football.

Tigers coach Dabo Swinney announced Wednesday afternoon that defensive end Justin Foster has graduated and is leaving the program.

Foster missed all of last season after a battle with COVID-19 in the preseason. Foster led Clemson’s defensive line in tackles for loss and was second on the team in 2019 when he last played.

“Tried to talk him out of it, but he had a very tough fall. COVID was a very tough thing for him,” Swinney said. “Justin is a guy that’s always battled asthma and allergies. He’s always had challenges with that. When he got COVID last summer that really, really set him back.”

Swinney added that Foster is much better than he was last fall but is still working his way back from COVID.

Swinney spoke with Foster about continuing to work to get back on the field, but the Shelby, N.C., native is ready to begin his professional career.

“He’s way better than he was back in August, but he’s still kind of working through that,” Swinney said. “Really was hoping that he’d continue that process and come back and play next year, but if you know Justin Foster, you know that first of all he’s a brilliant young man. He’s incredibly smart. He has a lot of interest and is very, very talented and he’s got a great career ahead of him.”