Rodgers rises to commit

Junior wide receiver Amari Rodgers broke the news of his commitment to USC Thursday with his father Tee Martin by his side.

Knoxville (Tenn.) wide out Amari Rodgers was considered one of the better prospects in the South for the class of 2017, but at the USC Rising Stars Camp, the junior showed he was one of the best in the nation.

The performance he left in his wake left Rodgers feeling certain that USC was his final college destination.

“I felt it was the right moment,” said Rodgers. “I think I had the best performance of my life in the camp.

“The coaches showed me a lot of love and that made me feel good. I’ve always felt like I had to prove that I’m not just Tee Martin’s son, I’m Amari Rodgers and I’m good on my own. That’s the main part of it.

“I’ve always wanted to come to USC, so when the coaches told me how much they wanted me, it just seemed like the right time.”

Going step for step with the top senior wide outs in the camp, Rodgers has seen the USC coaching staff in action many times as an observer on unofficial visits. However, Wednesday was Rodgers’ opportunity to be coached firsthand by his father, Tee Martin, and the rest of the offensive staff.

“It was amazing,” said Rodgers. “When my dad first got here to Southern Cal, I told him, ‘I’m going to make you proud one day.' I’ve worked my tail of since the first year he got here.

“I took the coaching he has given me and it worked. I also hung around with a lot of the current players in the players' lounge, so I got to know the team too. I hung out with Ykili Ross, Juju Smith, Isaac Whitney and a lot of those guys.

“They’re like a family and that’s what I want to be around in college. I don’t want to just be at a college on my own. I want to be on a team that's together, and that’s how it is at USC. That’s probably the main thing in my commitment. I wanted to be on a team tat’s a family.”

Of course, Rodgers commitment to USC comes two years before he signs a letter of intent. Being nestled away in the heart of SEC country, there has been some contemplation about Rodgers moving west for his senior year.

“That’s a hard question,” said Rodgers. “I want to come out here, but I think it’s best I stay in Tennessee. I don’t want to just leave my school like that.

“I want to stay dedicated and loyal to where I started. I would like to finish things out in Tennessee unless something happens where I have to move to Cali.

“But moving to Cali would probably be better for me as a player. Cali is the most athletic state in the nation, so being out here would actually make me better, but I want to finish where I started.”

Competition was the name of the game at Rising Stars this week. Rodgers opinion of California level athletics comes from empirical evidence.

“I got pushed both days,” said Rodgers. “JoeJuan Williams, the defensive back from Nashville is a great player who pushed me. I’m friends with him but he definitely pushed me today.

“At receiver, Freddie Swain and I mad each other better. That’s my boy and after the practice sessions, we’d go back and watch film with my dad. We’d critique one-on-ones and seven-on-seven together.”

With Tee Martin honing a reputation as one of the best recruiters in the country, Rodgers now goes from recruit to recruiter for USC.

“Oh yeah, I’m going to tell everybody to come out to SC,” said Rodgers. “They’re on the come up right now and about to win a Natty, so I’m trying to get everyone to come here.”

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