Note: The following appears in the Miami football gameday program.
As a South Carolinian who grew up a Clemson fan, Elijah Rodgers is extremely thankful for the time he has spent on the Tiger roster. Although his journey to Tigertown was filled with setbacks, his dedication and continual effort to be the best player he can be has ultimately paid off and rewarded him.
Rodgers was born and raised in Gaffney, where he lived with his parents, two older brothers and younger sister. The cornerback attended Blacksburg High School, where his father was a coach. As a Wildcat, Rodgers received multiple honors and was a two-time all-state and three-time all-region selection.
Recruited by Indiana, Rodgers ended up leaving Bloomington during the 2018 fall camp and decided to transfer to Gardner-Webb. That switch, however, did not work out, as he missed playing his second season as well.
With his football career at a crossroads, Rodgers made the choice to transfer one final time and put himself close to home in the Upstate.
When asked why he chose to walk on to the Tiger football team, he mentioned the adjacency to home and the reputation of the team.
“You have a top program in the country combined with being less than two hours away from home and family. You can’t really get that anywhere else in the country.”
While being a scholarship athlete during his short time as a Hoosier, Rodgers noted the difference in being a walk-on as a member of the Clemson football team.
“I did have to adjust to being a walk-on, but all the guys were extremely welcoming. I’ve been able to develop great relationships with them and the coaches and everyone else working with the football program. It’s been a good transition.”
Assisting with that transition was Assistant Coach Nick Eason, who Rodgers mentioned as being the coach to fill the mentor role.
“Coach Eason is an NFL guy, so he knows his stuff. He always keeps it real with me and he’s someone I can go to about football or life.”
Another aspect Rodgers has noticed and has been grateful for is the culture of brotherhood created among the players and in the locker room. Clemson is stands out from the rest of the college football world with a fewer number of players who transfer, meaning that this brotherhood can be taken to a further level than usually possible.
“My favorite thing about my time here at Clemson and everything I’ve experienced is the brotherhood in the locker room. I’ve gotten close to a lot of the guys on the team and am thankful for all the friendships I’ve made and will continue to have.”
Rodgers plans to graduate in the fall of 2023 with a degree in sociology. After graduation, he plans on taking his chances in the NFL. If professional football is not in his future, he is confident that he can excel in some sort of coaching position.
Whatever he ends up doing, Rodgers is sure that his journey to Clemson and his time spent as a Tiger student-athlete has prepared him to be successful in any career path.