Though it has been just two games, it appears Amari Rodgers has become Clemson’s big-play weapon at wide receiver and in the return game.
Rodgers opened the 2020 season with five catches for 90 yards in the top-ranked Tigers’ win at Wake Forest, including a 36-yard reception. Though he caught one pass in limited playing time last Saturday, it went for a touchdown. A 44-yard bomb down the middle of the field from quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
“The biggest thing is just his health,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said.
Rodgers is playing at hundred percent for the first time since his sophomore year. In March of 2019, he tore his ACL in his right knee, which many figured would cause him to miss most of the season. However, Rodgers was back by the Texas A&M game in Week 2 and he did not miss another game the rest of the season.
In Week 3, he looked like his old self, as he caught four passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns in a win at Syracuse. One of the touchdowns was an 87-yard catch-and-run, one in which he broke a tackle and outran the entire Orange secondary.
But Ross’ explosiveness did not stay long. Soon after the Syracuse game, his knee started to tire and he struggled through the rest of the season, though never missing a game. However, after some time off in between the ACC Championship Game and the College Football Playoff, he had an explosive 38-yard catch-and-run on the game-winning drive of the Fiesta Bowl.
After spending some time in the off-season strengthening his knee, Rodgers came back feeling like his old self again.
“He is fast. He has worked so hard on his body,” Swinney said. “He is strong and lean, but he is so healthy and so fast. His footwork is incredible. He has really become a craftsman at the position. He has such a great understanding of the details of the position.”
In camp, Rodgers crossed trained at all three wide receiver positions, but he is primarily working in the slot right now, though he has worked at the field position at times too.
“He knows how to (work) things. How to influence things. His break points, just his technique,” Swinney said. “He is really, really come a long way from a route running standpoint.
“He can fly. He really plays big. He is not a tall kid, but he plays big. He has great length to him, and he is so strong. It is just good to see him having the type of start he has had because that is just going to continue to fuel his confidence and that work ethic that he has put in. Obviously, I am proud of him.”
Rodgers in also emerging again as a weapon on punt returns. He had a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown against Boston College in 2018. Against The Citadel last week, he returned a punt 21 yards and then had a 16-yard return.
“There is a lot he can do,” Swinney said. “Obviously, he is a returner. There is really nothing he can’t do. He is going to have a great year and he has a bright future ahead as well.”
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