Swinney said Ross will undergo surgery Friday. Ross missed spring practices in March with what was reported at the time as stinger symptoms. Should he make a full recovery, he'll then have to decide between playing another year at Clemson or going pro. But his career could be in jeopardy as well.
"He feels perfectly fine, but doctors know he's at risk," Swinney said, according to ESPN's David M. Hale, adding Ross was unaware that he was born with vertebrae fused together.
Ross was projected to be the top receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The 6-foot-4 wideout formed a dangerous tandem with quarterback Trevor Lawrence. He put together a 1,000-yard season with nine touchdown catches in his freshman year and broke out for 153 yards and a score in a national championship game victory over Alabama in 2018.
He followed that up with 865 yards and eight touchdowns in his sophomore season.
Ross' injury is a significant blow to Clemson's title hopes in 2020. The Tigers had already lost Tee Higgins via the 2020 NFL Draft. After Higgins and Ross, running back Travis Etienne was Clemson's third-leading receiver in 2019 with 432 yards and four scores.