Clemson linebacker Justin Foster (35) stretches during practice in Tempe, Arizona Tuesday, December 24.

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Clemson’s Justin Foster (COVID-19) to return to team, after all

Buoyed by his doctor’s confidence that he would make a full recovery from COVID-19, Clemson star defensive end Justin Foster announced Wednesday he is ending his pandemic-induced retirement after only a few months.

Foster, who earned All-ACC honorable mention in 2019, his first season in a starting role, missed the 2020 season after battling the virus in June of that year and later dealing with complications known as long-haul syndrome. He has asthma and allergies, as well.

On Feb. 24, as Clemson’s spring practice was getting underway, he announced he wasn’t coming back for his final year of eligibility. He graduated in December.

His football outlook changed in the last few weeks thanks to medical update, he said in a statement released by the school.

“I went to Duke (Medical Center) a couple weeks ago, and the doctor was positive on me recovering in the near future. In the next month or two, she thought, I’d recover enough to compete at the college level. … She believed that I will be healthy and, for me, that was a big steppingstone,” Foster said.

In a conversation with Tigers coach Dabo Swinney, Foster acknowledged not being sure he could regain the form that saw him rack up seven sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss in his career.

“(Swinney) said if you’re feeling better, even if you’re not 100 percent, you can start working with the team and we’ll build you up from there. He said, ‘You don’t have to play 60 snaps a game; you’ll just do what you can do,’” Foster told ESPN.

Said Swinney, “It’s not often you get a call from a great player that you think is gone and he says he’s coming back. He’s a great leader with great experience and a really talented football player.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 14, 2019; Syracuse, NY, USA; Clemson Tigers defensive end Justin Foster (35) rushes a Syracuse Orange lineman during the first quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson DE Justin Foster retires after bout with COVID-19

Dec 6, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) runs onto the field before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson defensive end Justin Foster announced his retirement from football after missing the entire 2020 season battling symptoms of COVID-19.

Foster was projected to start for Clemson last season after finishing second on the team with 10.5 tackles for loss in 2019. However, Foster tested positive for the virus in August 2020, a battle from which he has not yet fully recovered.

“With sadness but no regret, I have decided it is in my best interest to call it a career and hang up football,” Foster posted to Twitter on Wednesday.

“I was born with asthma and allergies that, when active, affect my ability to breathe normally,” Foster wrote. “The combination of these conditions, along with contracting COVID, made for a severe difficulty to perform physically. While my situation has improved, I am not in a position now, or do I see that position soon, to step back on the field.”

Foster, who graduated last year, chose Clemson over Alabama, Florida and Georgia, among others, in the class of 2017.

He finishes with seven career sacks.

–Field Level Media