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Rodgers, Higgins meet the hype on first day of camp

Clemson fans have excitedly awaited the arrival of wide receivers Tee Higgins and Amari Rodgers since they each committed and then signed in February.

On Thursday, the touted tandem from Tennessee made their debuts as Tigers when the defending national champions began fall camp.

According to those that were on the field with Higgins and Rodgers, including current first-team quarterback Kelly Bryant, the former blue-chip prospects didn’t fail to meet the hype that accompanied them on their first day.

“They can play, man,” Bryant said after practice. “It’s just getting that confidence in their reps and their repetition over this camp, getting the playbook down each and every day. Those guys are going to be big impact players here.”

Both Higgins and Rodgers were ranked as national top-100 prospects in the 2017 signing class. Each earned two Mr. Football Awards in high school as the top skill players in their respective classifications, and both played in the Under Armour All-America Game to cap their high school careers.

Co-offense coordinator Tony Elliott had a good idea of what to expect from Higgins, who was Clemson’s highest-rated signee in the class.

After coming in at 197 pounds during Clemson’s weigh-in on Wednesday, Higgins flashed the talent that made him a five-star and consensus top-40 overall prospect.

“I think everyone knows what Tee is, and Tee’s going to be an unbelievable player,” Elliott said. “You saw him make some catches. His weight was something that surprised me from the weigh-in. Didn’t realize he was that big. Very smooth.”

As good as Higgins looked, Elliott said it was Rodgers who stood out in his mind on day one.

Fellow receiver Ray-Ray McCloud was limited in practice as he continues to recover from an injured wrist, so Rodgers saw a lot of action.

“Amari probably would be the one that caught my attention the most,” Elliott said. “He just looked very natural, very smooth. Especially with Ray-Ray’s situation, he got a lot of reps today.”

Clemson receivers coach Jeff Scott said at Dabo Swinney’s media golf outing last month he is optimistic Higgins and Rodgers will make an impact for the Tigers this fall. The good news for Higgins and Rodgers is there isn’t any pressure on them to do so.

Clemson has seven other veteran receivers that are ready to play, including a guy like Hunter Renfrow that can help Higgins and Rodgers learn the offense and help bring them along.

“They’re unbelievably talented,” Renfrow said. “Amari’s a guy who just takes it so seriously, and you can tell. It’s not his whole life, but it means a lot to him. And Tee is a guy who’s super talented, and he takes it serious as well.

“But we all just have some work. I remember when I was a freshman, I had a lot to work on before game one, and that’s what camp is for.”

 

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