The knee brace that Clemson receiver Amari Rodgers had to wear upon his return to the field last season following his ACL tear the previous spring is now a thing of the past, and Rodgers feels his speed is on a different level minus the brace.
“I’m definitely faster without it, without a doubt,” Rodgers told reporters this week ahead of the Tigers’ season opener at Wake Forest on Saturday. “I haven’t had the brace since spring. I just had to wear it during the season last year. I haven’t had a brace on since spring practice started, so I’ve been without a brace for a while now. So, that’s long gone. I’m glad that’s in the past.”
But just how fast is Rodgers right now, compared to other members of “Wide Receiver U”?
Well, Rodgers says only sophomore Frank Ladson has the slight edge on him among those in Clemson’s receiving corps.
“As far as speed, I feel like I’m second right now,” Rodgers said. “Frank is definitely the fastest receiver on the team.”
“When we were racing this summer, he beat me by a couple yards, which I’m going to get him back. I told him that,” Rodgers added, smiling. “But right now, I rank second.”
Ladson’s fellow sophomore wideout, Joseph Ngata, has said he is faster than Ladson, but Rodgers was quick to shoot that claim down when asked about it.
“Oh no, he’s not. He’s not. He’s third, though. He’s behind me, I’ll give him that one,” Rodgers said with a smile.
Heading into his senior season at Clemson, Rodgers hopes his speed will help him impress NFL scouts not only from his slot position but also as a punt returner, a role in which he wants to run past opposing coverage units on his way to the house.
“That’s definitely a thing that I put on my goals this year is definitely return a couple punt returns back, because I feel like that’s an aspect that I can show on film to help me out with the next level,” Rodgers said. “So, I’ve definitely been pushing myself in practice to treat every rep like it’s a game so that when the game comes, I can make those plays.”
Other goals Rodgers has set for himself entering the season include catching everything that comes his way and scoring double-digit touchdowns, though his No. 1 goal is to do anything and everything he can to help the Tigers make another run at a national title.
“I’m very hard on myself, so I don’t want to have any drops because I care about my hands,” he said. “I work on my hands every single day. I don’t want to have any drops. My goal is to have at least like 10 touchdowns, but if it doesn’t happen and we’re winning, it doesn’t matter. I have goals for myself, but it’s not about me. It’s about our team getting to the ultimate goal, and that’s the national championship. So, I’m going to do whatever it takes.”
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