Clemson defensive end Justin Foster announced his retirement from football on Wednesday, citing his experience contracting COVID-19 and the resulting complications from his asthma and allergies as reasons he will be unable to continue playing.
“Today is a difficult day for me, but it is also a day of reflection and gratitude. With sadness but no regret. I have decided it is in my best interest to call it a career and hang up football," Foster wrote in a statement. "Playing for Clemson University, the fans, coach Swinney, the coaches and the support staff has been a tremendous honor."
Foster appeared in 38 games during his collegiate career. He made 17.5 tackles for loss with seven sacks, and was an All-ACC honorable mention in 2019. In his statement Foster detailed how asthma and allergies have impaired his breathing ability, and the effects were exacerbated after contracting COVID-19.
"While my situation has improved, I am not in a position now, nor do I see that position soon, to step back on to the field. After consulting multiple medical professionals, my focus is more so on recovering for the long term. This decision came after months of recovery and treatment, which required asking a lot of difficult questions regarding my future…While I still have a way to go, I feel confident that I will recover."
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said he believes Foster has the ability to play at the next level, per Todd Shanesy of The Greenville News, and that he was unsuccessful in trying to change Foster's mind.
“I checked his oil. I tried to talk him out of it,” Swinney said. “He’s ready to move on. He's got some really, really good and special career work opportunities that he is really interested in and wants to get started on.”
Foster has already earned his degree in construction science and management, and said he's looking forward to finding his next challenge.
“I believe, as Coach Swinney says, that ‘the best is yet to come.’ I think that is true for Clemson University, for the Clemson Tigers, and my future,” Foster wrote. “It’s time to put everything Clemson has given me to work out there in my next journey.”