June 1 (UPI) -- Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross will miss the entire 2020 season due to a neck and spinal disorder.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney told reporters Monday on a conference call that Ross will have surgery to correct a "congenital fusion" in his spine. The condition, which Ross was born with, is an abnormal fusion of any two of the seven bones in the neck.
The junior wideout is scheduled to fly to Pittsburgh on Thursday to undergo the procedure, according to Swinney. Dr. David Okonkwo, a leading neuroscientist, will perform the operation Friday.
Ross suffered what the team believed was a stinger during a scrimmage in March. The next day, team doctors said X-rays revealed the issue.
"He caught a pass, nothing crazy," Swinney said about the injury. "He caught a slant and got hit and was slow to get up. He had stinger symptoms [in his neck], a little bit of numbness, which is not uncommon in the game of football."
Swinney said Ross is in good spirits and is otherwise healthy, but the injury is a significant concern if he were to resume playing football.
"It was a hard thing for all of us ... but Justyn is in a great place mentally," Swinney said. "He's ready to do what he needs to do to give himself the best chance to play football again. ... He feels perfectly fine, but doctors know he's at risk."
Swinney noted that Okonkwo is "optimistic" that Ross will be able to return to the field at some point, but the coach said he was unaware of any player who has undergone surgery for this spinal problem and returned.
Ross, who was expected to be the focal point of Clemson's passing attack this season, finished with 66 receptions for 865 yards and eight touchdowns in 2019.