CLEMSON — Clemson taught Amari Rodgers and Cornell Powell how to win.
The wide receivers were both selected in last month’s NFL Draft. Rodgers was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the third round after taking over as the Tigers’ top wideout this past season. With Justyn Ross dealing with problems in his spine and Tee Higgins gone to the NFL, he emerged as Trevor Lawrence’s top target in the slot with 77 receptions for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns.
Powell waited out injuries and depth in the wide receiver room, emerging as a vertical threat and difference maker in Clemson’s 2020 pass game. His standout season boosted his draft stock, resulting in the Kansas City Chiefs picking him up in the fifth round.
Now both are with highly-regarded NFL franchises, walking into win-now situations. When both spoke after their rookie minicamps, both referenced Clemson as a “winning program.” Coming from a place where winning was so frequent — the Tigers have won six-consecutive ACC championships — has molded them into different players.
“I come from a winning program, and this is a winning program as well,” Powell said after the Chiefs rookie minicamp. “So I feel like that transition’s going to be smooth. I know what to expect. They expect championships, and that’s where I’m coming from, being at Clemson. And then being coached by coach Swinney, he’s a very God-fearing man, someone who believes in family atmosphere and all about culture. And being here for these past couple days, I feel the same vibe. It’s all about culture, it’s all about the little things. … So it’s going to be great, man.
“And then going from Trevor to Patrick Mahomes, it’s a blessing. I couldn’t ask for anything better. I fell into the perfect situation, so just have to make the most of every opportunity that I get.”
Rodgers is in the same exact situation in Green Bay, except he doesn’t know who his starting quarterback will be just yet. NFL MVP and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been disgruntled with the organization, especially after Jordan Love was selected in last year’s NFL Draft instead of giving Rodgers another skill player to work with. Now he reportedly wants out of Green Bay; he skipped the team’s first voluntary OTA session earlier this week.
But for Amari Rodgers, the opportunity to be in Green Bay outweighs the quarterback controversy.
“To be doing it for the Packer is even more of a dream to know it’s such a prestigious program and that they win,” Rodgers said. “I come from a winning program too, so I plan on plugging right in and helping the team win a Super Bowl, that’s my main goal.”
Rodgers and Powell are just the latest wide receiver products to come out of Clemson. The Tigers and Dabo Swinney have had 69 players drafted since 2009, the second-most by any college coach during the timespan. The duo made the College Football Playoff each season.
Now they’ll bring the winning traditions at Clemson over to the NFL.