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Eric Boynton | Spartanburg Herald-Journal | October 31, 2018

Clemson football: Amari Rodgers enjoys breakout game

Alabama leads competition in AP Poll

CLEMSON -- Clemson receiver Amari Rodgers just had a feeling his time was coming, that a breakout performance could happen during any game.

He'd been told by his coaches and his father -- Southern Cal offensive coordinator Tee Martin -- to remain patient and keep grinding, stay positive and good things will come.

They came in abundance for the sophomore in Saturday's 59-10 victory at Florida State.

Rodgers, who scored Clemson's first touchdown of the season in the first quarter of the opener against Furman, hadn't scored again prior to catching touchdown passes of 58 and 68 yards against the Seminoles. He finished with six catches for 156 yards and the two scores, all career highs, and also returned three punts for a career-best 62 yards. His 29-yard return helped set up Clemson's second touchdown and resurgence after a rather sluggish, scoreless first quarter.

MORE: Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Notre Dame lead first CFP rankings

"I felt like the way I was preparing in practice every week and performing consistently in games, I felt it was time, that it was going to come soon," Rodgers said of his coming-out party. "You never know when that time is going to come so you have to prepare every week and when the moment comes take advantage of it, and I did that this week and hopefully I can build off of it."

What Rodgers really cherished most about his performance was sharing the moment with his family after the game, saying, "Embracing that moment with them because they've been waiting for that for a long time, too. Just seeing how happy and proud they were."

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Rodgers, who caught 19 passes for 123 yards for zero touchdowns last season, entered the FSU game with 24 catches for 227 yards and the one touchdown. In the previous games against North Carolina State and Wake Forest, he had a combined three receptions for 9 yards.

"We have a lot of wide-outs, play eight and nine guys, and for whatever reason the ball just hadn't really found him a whole lot up until this point," co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said. "I just really encouraged him this past week, told him he was practicing really well and it's going to find you and you have to be ready when that opportunity comes. I was really happy for him. He's a dynamic player."

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The lowlight of his season, one that ultimately was erased by a stirring comeback, came in the win over Syracuse where he had trouble securing punts and even fumbled one away late that momentarily stalled Clemson's rally. He's turned that negative into a positive and said it encouraged him moving forward to work even harder on that part of his game.

"I feel that helped me out," Rodgers said. "That I needed that to refocus myself. I felt I was perfect at it and wasn't going to mess up and I needed that to get that mindset back that I still needed to work on the little things."

Rodgers added he feels catching and returning punts is an under-appreciated skill and "I definitely feel like people don't know how hard it is. When the ball is in the air it's quiet and just you and the ball. You've got to catch it or you're going to lose. But you can't worry about that. I've been working on mediation-type stuff just to help calm me and focus on the ball when it comes in the air."

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said of Rodgers, "He has been consistent really all around all year. But he just hadn't had that big, real explosive play (prior to FSU). But that was a huge game for him. Just the yards after the catch, he led our team in that, and made two great plays. It's definitely one of those games that can kind of give you a big boost going into Game 9. He's a very well-rounded good player who can do a lot of things for us."

This article is written by Eric Boynton from Spartanburg Herald-Journal and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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