As he gets ready for the next chapter of his career in the NFL, Amari Rodgers credits Clemson for helping prepare him for the next level – both physically and mentally – from the time he first stepped foot on campus as a freshman in 2017.
“It prepares you from day one,” the former Tiger receiver said recently. “Everybody that comes here is four- and five-stars, so you’ve got to be on your Ps and Qs from day one or you’re going to get embarrassed.”
A former four-star prospect from Knoxville Catholic High School in Tennessee, Rodgers was pretty stout and relatively well developed from a physical standpoint when he arrived to Clemson.
However, his first taste of practicing at Clemson, and competing against bigger and more talented athletes than he faced in high school, served as a wake-up call for Rodgers that he still needed to bulk up and gain strength in order to match up better against his teammates and become a better player himself.
“Physically, from day one, I got woken up,” he said. “I was already strong, but I still had to get bigger and get adjusted to stronger, better guys tackling me and guarding me and stuff like that.”
The now 5-foot-9, 212-pound Rodgers feels he is not only physically ready for the NFL, but also mentally prepared for the next level thanks to the time he spent at Clemson, which helped him understand how essential learning the playbook is to success on the field.
“If you don’t know what to do, then you can’t go out there and play fast and play confident,” he said. “So, mentally, just from that point – just knowing that you’ve got to perform at a high level, and learning plays – it was challenging at first, but once you get used to it, you start excelling in your game because you’re going against the best every single day, and Coach Swinney does a great job of making sure that we compete in practice and push each other.”
As a senior in 2020, Rodgers was a first-team All-ACC selection and Biletnikoff semifinalist after tallying career highs in receptions (77), receiving yards (1,020) and receiving touchdowns (seven) across 12 games. He concluded his career with 181 receptions for 2,144 yards and 15 receiving touchdowns over 55 career games.
A projected Day 2 pick in next month’s NFL Draft, Rodgers knows he wouldn’t be the wide receiver he is today were it not for the four years he spent at Clemson as a member of “Wide Receiver U.”
“Coming and playing here at Clemson got the best out of me every single day,” he said, “and I’ll always appreciate that.”
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