Clemson defensive end Justin Foster announced his retirement Wednesday, saying that a combination of asthma, allergies and COVID-19 have made it impossible for him to return to the field.
“The decision came after months of recovery and treatment, which required asking a lot of difficult questions about my future,” Foster, a senior, wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “While I still have a way to go, I feel confident I will fully recover.”
Head coach Dabo Swinney said Wednesday that Foster is feeling far better than he was after initially testing positive in August 2020. However, Foster said he is “not in a position now nor do I see that position soon, to step back on the field.”
“He had a very tough fall,” Swinney said of Foster, who missed all of the 2020 season while dealing with COVID-19 symptoms. “He’s always had challenges with [asthma and allergies], but when he got COVID last summer, that really set him back.”
Foster is the second member of Clemson’s 2020 defensive line to deal with long-term COVID-19 symptoms. Xavier Thomas tested positive for COVID-19 last April, and symptoms persisted to the point that he was forced to sit out all of fall camp and missed the early part of the 2020 season.
Foster was one of Clemson’s leading edge defenders in 2019, finishing second on the team with 10.5 tackles for loss. He was projected to be a starter for the 2020 season but never set foot on the field.
ESPN ranked Foster as the No. 73 overall recruit in the 2017 class, and he chose Clemson over offers from Alabama, Florida and Georgia, among others.
Swinney said he was disappointed by Foster’s decision and asked him to stay with the team in hopes of playing down the road, but he said that Foster, who graduated last year, had a job opportunity that affected his decision.
“Today is a new chapter filled with many emotions,” Foster wrote. “I have great pride and gratitude as I reflect on my experiences … and excitement and confidence for my future.”