April 21, 2001
CLEMSON, S.C. – Clemson All-America wide receiver Rod Gardner was selected in the first round of the NFL draft by the Washington Redskins on Saturday afternoon. Gardner, a native of Jacksonville, FL who originally came to Clemson as a quarterback, was the 15th selection of the first round.
“When it became obvious that Rod Gardner was going to be there, we had really no interest in trading the pick,” said Redskins Head Coach Marty Shottenheimer. “He has a unique ability to make the contested catches. And, what happens in the NFL is you don’t get nearly as wide open as you might in college, and he showed a unique ability to make plays in traffic. Every video that I looked at, he kept running by people.”
Gardner completed his Clemson career as the school’s all-time leader in receptions with 166. He finished his career third in school history in reception yards with 2498. This past year he caught 58 passes for 1050 yards. In his junior season he set the Clemson single season record for receptions with 80. He is the only receiver in Clemson history to reach 1000 yards in a season, and he did it twice.
Gardner is Clemson’s first first-round draft choice since Antwan Edwards was the 25th pick of the first round by the Green Bay Packers in the 1999 draft. Gardner is the highest selection from Clemson since the 1998 draft when Anthony Simmons was the 15th pick of the first round by the Seattle Seahawks.
Gardner is actually the third different player in Clemson history to be chosen 15th in the draft. Wayne Simmons was the 15th pick of the 1993 draft by the Green Bay Packers. Gardner is the 20th player in Clemson history to be chosen in the first round, just the third wide receiver. Perry Tuttle was the last Clemson wide receiver taken in the first round, as the former All-American was taken in the first round, the 19th pick by Buffalo in 1982. Jerry Butler was the fifth pick of the NFL draft in 1979 by Buffalo.
Gardner is just the second Clemson player drafted by the Redskins since 1968. The only other selection from Clemson by the Redskins was Leomont Evans, a fifth-round pick in the 1996 draft.
“Rod is very excited, and I am very excited,” said Clemson wide receivers coach Rick Stockstill, Gardner’s position coach. “I am happy for Rod and his family because no one worked harder for this day than Rod over his career and especially over the last two years.
“Rod has represented Clemson in a positive way. He is going to graduate from Clemson in a couple of weeks and has been a model citizen. “
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