For former Clemson wide receiver Amari Rodgers, being taken by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2021 NFL Draft would be uniquely special.
The Ravens recently hired Rodgers’ father, Tee Martin, to be the team’s wide receivers coach after previous wide receivers coach David Culley was hired to be the Houston Texans’ head coach.
“Now that I have the chance, I’m just praying that I get the chance to play for him,” Rodgers said on Glenn Clark Radio Feb. 11. “But growing up I never got the chance to play for him.”
Martin comes to Baltimore from the college ranks previously serving as the wide receivers coach at Southern Cal (2012-2018) and his alma mater of Tennessee (2019-2020). As a college coach, Martin helped develop several current NFL wide receivers. He worked with Nelson Agholor (Las Vegas Raiders), Michael Pittman Jr. (Indianapolis Colts), JuJu Smith Schuster (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Robert Woods (Los Angeles Rams).
Despite never playing for him, Rodgers is extremely confident that if he is drafted by the Ravens he’d thrive under the tutelage of his father.
“I know that he’s going to push me, he knows me more than anyone,” Rodgers said. “I know that he knows what’s good for me and what’s not. So, if I had the chance to play for him, he would definitely build me into the player I know I can be.”
Growing up in Knoxville, Tenn., as the son of a former national championship quarterback at Tennessee, Rodgers faced high expectations as a football player. However, Rodgers was also greeted by plenty of skeptics who perceived his accolades to merely be byproducts of his father. That criticism only fueled Rodgers and served as motivation from his early playing days to today.
“That’s really what drove me my whole high school career and through college, that I wanted to make a name for myself and show people that I am an elite player,” Rodgers explained. “That’s really what motivates me, what takes me through each day of training right now.”
During his four seasons with the Tigers, the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Rodgers primarily played in the slot as he developed a strong rapport with presumptive 2021 No. 1 pick quarterback Trevor Lawrence. As a senior in 2020, Rodgers posted a career-best 1,020 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
Outside of the fact that his father is now on the staff, there are several other things that make the Ravens an attractive destination for Rodgers. As Rodgers described, the Ravens have a tradition of winning and have built a winning program.
In addition, the opportunity to catch passes from 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson certainly is enticing. The former Clemson standout is well aware of Jackson’s talents and explosiveness; Louisville and Clemson faced off during Rodgers’ freshman season (2017).
“He’s probably one of the best players I’ve ever seen in person play,” Rodgers said of Jackson. “Just how fast he is, how athletic he is and how he’s able to do special things with the ball in his hands.”
Now transitioning to the NFL, Rodgers is confident in what he can bring to an NFL team with his ability to play either in the slot or on the outside. Rodgers views himself as similar to former Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., who at 5-foot-9 was also viewed as undersized entering the league. Like Smith, Rodgers brings the added versatility of contributing to the return game as well.
“I’m definitely confident in my skill set, what I bring to the game with my route running, my speed, my hands,” Rodgers said. “I feel like my value is higher than a lot of people see it. I’m just ready to prove it when I get in the league.”
According to The Draft Network, Rodgers is the No. 109 overall prospect and No. 18 receiver in this deep and talented class. Now just a few months away from reaching the NFL, Rodgers remains focused on outworking everybody — a message his father preached since he was a little kid.
“Whenever I feel like I should be working,” Rodgers said, “I think about somebody else that’s going for the same goals that I’m going for and wanting to achieve the things I want to achieve.”
For more from Rodgers, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: David Platt