CLEMSON, SC - If you can count on one thing this college football season, it’s
the unabashed confidence of Clemson wide receiver Rod Gardner.
He caused a stir earlier this week with comments which were perceived by
some to show a lack of respect for the No. 17 Tigers’ opening-game opponent,
The Citadel. But when you can walk the walk, you’re allowed to talk the
“Right now on this team, I’m the No. 1 guy receiving,” said the 6-foot-3,
215-pound senior. “Coming off last year and what I accomplished... basically
I’ve set my goals even higher this year.”
Those accomplishments include leading the Tigers’ receiving corps in every
major statistical category, including catches (80), yards (1,084) and
touchdown receptions (4). His 80 catches and 1,084 yards are both school
single-season records, as well as his receptions per game (6.67) and yards
per game (90.3). He also set a single-season mark for most receptions in a
single game with his 11 catches versus Marshall in the 1999 opener, which
turned out to be the most ever passes caught by an individual ever in a game
played at Death Valley.
If the Jacksonville, Fla. native comes even remotely close to putting those
types of numbers up this season, more records will fall - and fall hard.
Coming into today’s opener with The Citadel, Gardner sits in sixth place on
Clemson’s all-time receptions list with a total of 108. With 55 catches, he
will break the record currently held by former All-Atlantic Coast Conference
wideout Terry Smith, who played at Clemson from 1990-93. With 1,233
receiving yards this fall, he shatters Smith’s career mark in that category,
Easy to see why Gardner is ready to get the 2000 campaign underway.
“We’re determined to get out there against an opponent and show what we can
do,” he said. “We’re ready to take the whole game to the next level. I mean,
we’ve got so many expectations this year and we’re trying to accomplish and
so many goals... The Citadel’s just the start of it.”
Looking at the Bulldogs’ depth chart, it may be a big start for Gardner. The
Citadel’s two starters at cornerback, Kevin Gause and Jay Ingram, stand at
5-8 and 5-7, respectively. Unless the two are allowed to carry brooms on the
field, things could get ugly trying to defend Gardner, a 6-3 jumping jack.
The record 11 receptions he caught in last season’s opener could be
“This game’s just the start,” said Gardner. “Everybody’s ready. Everybody’s
hyped for the season. Everybody’s going into this game focused, ready to
accomplish our goals. Right now, it’s just time to go play and have fun.”
And if there’s one thing you can count on this college football season, Rod
Gardner will have fun.
Dan Scott is the sports editor of Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger.
His columns can be read at www.dailyjournalmessenger.com.