Jeff Scott has coached a list of stars during his tenure as Clemson’s wide receivers coach, including current NFL players Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, Martavis Bryant, Adam Humphries, Jaron Brown and Charone Peake.
However, he hasn’t been around a freshman receiver quite like Amari Rodgers. At least not off the field, that is.
“Amari Rodgers is one of the most mature freshmen that I’ve had in my eight years at Clemson. Just super focused,” Scott said after Clemson’s practice on Saturday.
“You can learn a little bit about them in the recruiting process and all that, but you can’t find that out until they get here.”
Scott said Rodgers has gone above and beyond that of a typical freshman from a preparation standpoint, doing more than has been asked of him in order to learn Clemson’s offense and absorb the installation that has been thrown at him and the other freshmen in the first few days of fall camp.
“It’s not good enough just to come and have the install meetings with the coach, but coming in an hour early and getting on the computer and taking your own notes before we actually have the meeting,” Scott used as an example. “That’s stuff that a typical junior, senior would do, and ask the right questions.”
It’s not just off the field that Rodgers has impressed.
According to Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, the former national top-100 prospect from Knoxville, Tenn., has made the most of his early opportunities on it.
With fellow receivers Ray-Ray McCloud (wrist) and Cornell Powell (hamstring) limited by injuries, Rodgers ran with the first team in practice on Saturday.
“He is way beyond where you’d think a freshman would be,” Swinney said. “He’s fast, he’s strong, he’s pretty technically sound, he’s got great ball skills. I’m incredibly encouraged. He’s gotten a ton of work with the ones because Cornell tweaked his ham yesterday, so he was limited today, so all of a sudden Amari is jumping in there with the ones and he didn’t miss a beat. He’s made some incredible plays.”
Swinney attributed Rodgers’ early success to the same thing Scott has been so pleased with — his preparation.
“He’s got a very serious demeanor to him, he’s very confident, he’s a great worker, he’s very coachable, and you can just tell he’s put the work in,” Swinney said. “He’s prepared.
“He’s going to be a handful. He is big and can fly and explosive. … He’s been outstanding.”
As much as Rodgers has done on his own to exceed expectations thus far, he isn’t doing it all alone.
“You’ve got a guy like Ray-Ray McCloud that’s taken a lot of time with a guy like Amari Rodgers,” Scott said. “I’m watching him out here today — and Ray-Ray’s been out and hopefully will be back Monday — and Amari is out there getting a lot of reps, and Ray-Ray’s coaching him up. To me, that’s the kind of stuff that I get excited about as a coach.”
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