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Clemson Football

'There's just no point in leaving': Rodgers details his decision to return to Clemson

December 17, 2019
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Clemson wide receiver Amari Rodgers has no plans of entering his name into the NFL Draft after the 2019 season.

Rodgers, a junior, said Tuesday at Clemson’s media session before the College Football Playoff semifinal that he had been thinking about it at the beginning of the season, but came to the conclusion that he wants to return for his senior year in part due to the amount of receivers in this year’s draft class.

“I was just like, ‘there’s no point in leaving,’” Rodgers said. “There’s a big, deep receivers draft so I’m not going to rush and leave for something. If I knew I was better than what I am going to be drafted at just because of the many receivers that are going into the draft so I’m just going to stay.”

“I was just like, ‘there’s no point in leaving,’” Rodgers said. “There’s a big, deep receivers draft so I’m not going to rush and leave for something. If I knew I was better than what I am going to be drafted at just because of the many receivers that are going into the draft so I’m just going to stay.”

Rodgers was second on the team in receptions with 55 and started all 15 games in Clemson’s 2018 championship run. He was then derailed a bit due to a torn ACL suffered during spring practice.

But Rodgers’ recovery was way ahead of schedule and he returned to action 166 days after the injury took place. 

Co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said in July that Rodgers’ mental toughness during the rehabilitation process was not a surprise one bit.

“Very similar to when Deshaun Watson was kind of going through that,” Scott said.

Looking back on this year and what has transpired, the injury that many thought would have been good reason to redshirt Rodgers for the 2019 season could be seen as a blessing. He feels like a better player now after the injury as opposed to before.

“I’m definitely faster. I feel like I’m more explosive, too,” Rodgers said Tuesday. “During the rehab process, I had to focus on the muscles in my legs and my explosiveness. I feel like that went over with my speed as well.”

Rodgers’ first return to action came against Texas A&M where he was just getting his feet wet, catching two balls for six yards. The very next week against Syracuse was when he broke out and showed the nation in primetime that he was still an undeniable weapon in Clemson’s explosive 2019 offense.

He finished the Syracuse game with four caught passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns, including an 87-yard bubble screen that went the distance and was the fourth-longest pass play in Clemson’s history. That’s when Rodgers felt like he wasn’t thinking about his knee and was just focused on playing ball.

“I feel like the Syracuse game was when I got my confidence back, really,” Rodgers added.

Going into bowl season, Rodgers has 27 catches for 280 yards and four touchdowns. He has started in eight of the 12 games he has played.

According to WalterFootball.com, Rodgers is the 51st-ranked wide receiver eligible for the NFL Draft. His counterpart and good friend, Tee Higgins, has been seen anywhere from top 5 to top 10 receiver prospects for this year’s draft depending on who you are asking.

Higgins has yet to decide if he will forego his senior season at Clemson.

“He does a good job of not talking about it at all,’ Rodgers said of Higgins. “That’s one thing that we really appreciate about him is that he doesn’t make it a distraction. He’s focused on the now and focused on getting another national championship. That’s why he’s playing so well, too. He’s not letting outside factors affect his ball.”

In 2020, Rodgers could be the veteran on an offense that could potentially be losing key pieces in Higgins and Travis Etienne, both junior starters who could be high draft picks. Rodgers views himself as a leader and believes he still has a lot to prove before he leaves Clemson for good.

“Just being able to make more plays and just being that guy that can be depended on,” Rodgers added. “Just building on my production points. And also, on special teams, hopefully return some more punts for touchdowns and being that guy that people can see and just being able to be confident in everything I do. 

“I just wanted to come back and be that leader for the team also because I’m going to be a senior, so I just wanted to come in and lead the young guys in everything that I do and be that person that they look up to.”

Rodgers talked with his father Tee Martin, wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator for Tennessee, about his decision as well as other members of his family. He feels grateful for his time at Clemson, what has transpired here in 2019, and hopes to build upon his legacy further after this season’s championship run.

“I’ve grown as a man and as a player, so it’s been a very long process,” Rodgers said. “It’s been something that I’m very grateful for and I feel like if (the injury) didn’t happen, I’d definitely be in a different place mentally. I’m very thankful for my injury and this season. I feel like I’ve grown on and off the field.”

 
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