At Clemson, the expectations are championship or bust. That didn't seem to bother wide receiver Amari Rodgers, who always shines when the lights are brightest.
During his four years with the Tigers, the versatile wideout had 181 receptions for 2,144 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also had six carries for 46 yards and a touchdown.
Rodgers saved his best season for last, catching 77 passes for 1,020 yards this past fall. Though the 2020 season didn't end with a national championship, the All-ACC performer already had a championship ring with the Tigers.
Following this senior season, Rodgers took his talents down to Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl. NFL scouts who were hoping to see his agility and versatility on display weren't disappointed, as the Clemson product performed extremely well throughout the week.
As if his Senior Bowl performance wasn't impressive enough, Rodgers looked sharp running routes during his pro day last week. He also recorded a 30.5-inch vertical and an unofficial time of 4.44 in the 40-yard dash.
We sat down with Amari Rodgers to discuss his Clemson career, pro day, and what he expects from himself at the next level.
The Spun: How do you believe you performed at your pro day?
Amari Rodgers: I feel like I did great. I feel like I checked all the boxes I needed to check and more. I showed that I can run routes out of the backfield and contribute on special teams with punt returns. I showed how valuable I am and what I can bring to the game.
The Spun: We saw you take a few snaps out of the backfield. Should we be reading into that a little bit more?
AR: Scouts were telling me that they wanted to see me run routes in the backfield just in case I’ll be matched up against a linebacker on third down or something like that. They wanted to see me in short-yardage situations.
The Spun: Are there any players you can’t wait to face off against in the NFL?
AR: I’d say Jalen Ramsey because he’s from Tennessee, too. There’s not really a lot of talent that comes out of Tennessee, so the fact that we’re playing at the highest level is really cool. I’ll be looking forward to that matchup.
The Spun: When you reflect back on your Clemson career, what do you think?
AR: It was great. I enjoyed every single year. In 2018, we won the national championship. We didn’t lose much during my time there. You always enjoy being part of a winning culture, and Dabo Swinney took care of us on and off the field. He made sure we had all the tools for whenever we’re done playing. All in all, I had a great experience and don’t regret anything I went to.
The Spun: Clemson has championship-or-bust expectations every year. Do you guys feel that pressure?
AR: No, you actually get used to it. When you step on campus you know what the standard is. We have the mindset every game and practice.
The Spun: You saved your best season for last at Clemson. What do you think you showed on tape?
AR: I showed my versatility, that I can run good routes, and that I have good playing speed. My junior year I was wearing a knee brace that slowed me down a little bit. I was able to open up and show that knee injury didn’t affect me and that I can be a contributor to Clemson. My goal was to show that I can come back better.
The Spun: You recently tweeted about playing through the contact. What’s your mindset when the ball is in your hands?
AR: I’m trying to score, plain and simple. I’m not trying to be tackled by one person. It’s going to take more than one person to take me down. You don’t get many opportunities at the next level, so you got to take advantage of every opportunity you get.
The Spun: Is there a wide receiver who you model your game after?
AR: In the past, I’d say Steve Smith is who I looked up to the most growing up as a kid. In the game right now, I’d say Jarvis Landry.
The Spun: You got to meet Steve Smith at your pro day. What was that like?
AR: It was crazy. I didn’t know he was going to be there, so when I saw him I knew I had to do well in front of him because he’s very critical. He gave me a lot of good advice and we had a good conversation. Getting advice from someone like that meant a lot to me.
The Spun: When did you first know Trevor Lawrence was special?
AR: From the first day he stepped on campus. The approach he had at practice, how competitive he was - I could tell he was going to be a special player. We knew off the rip that he’d be a special player. Once he got the playbook down, he just took off from there. But we definitely all knew he’d be special from Day 1.
The Spun: What should Clemson fans expect from DJ Uiagelelei and Justyn Ross in 2021?
AR: There’s not going to be any falloff. There’s going to be a lot of touchdowns. I’ve been to a couple of spring practices and I can see how well they’re doing so far. I’m excited to see how they perform when they open up against Georgia. That’s a great test for them.
The Spun: How was the Senior Bowl for you?
AR: It was fun. I approached it like a business trip and wanted to show scouts what I can do. I feel like I checked off all the boxes there as well. Coming out of that game, I had a lot of confidence for my pro day.
The Spun: Have you had conversations with Tee Higgins on how to prepare for the NFL?
AR: We talk a lot. He told me to treat it like it’s an offseason at Clemson. He said don’t approach the process like it’s more than what it is. It’s just football at the end of the day - just keep going what you’ve been doing all your life. And then when you get on a team, Tee said to invest a lot of time into learning the playbook. If you don’t know what you’re doing, coaches won’t trust you. He gave me a lot of advice for sure.
The Spun: What should we expect from Amari Rodgers at the next level?
AR: Just somebody who is going to contribute from Day 1. I have the mentality that I’m not going to be outworked. From Day 1, I’m going to bring that mentality and get one percent better each day. I’m not trying to waste any days because you will not be successful if you do. I have that mentality that I’m going to keep improving so I can be successful for my team every Sunday.
Rodgers currently has a Day 2 projection for the 2021 NFL Draft. He told The Spun that he's interviewed with a plethora of teams thus far, so it's safe to say that he'll have multiple suitors this April.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.