KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Monday is a huge night for East Tennessee athletes Amari Rodgers, a former Knoxville Catholic standout and Tee Higgins from Oak Ridge.
The two standout receivers will try and help the Clemson Tigers win their third national championship in the last four years when they take on the LSU Tigers out of the SEC in the College Football Playoff championship game.
Rodgers, the son of VFL and current Vols assistant coach Tee Martin, caught a key pass going for 38 yards in Clemson’s game-winning drive against Ohio State in the national semifinals. Martin, a current Vols assistant and VFL quarterback who led Tennessee to the BCS national title back in 1998, will be in New Orleans Monday night to watch his son compete at the Superdome. Martin could not watch Amari play in that win over the Buckeye's as he was helping his Vols prepare for their Gator Bowl game in Jacksonville.
I’m excited to see this game and this match up between Clemson and LSU. Two great college QBs, the RBs, WRs, and two really good offensive lines vs two very stingy defenses. I’m so proud of Amari and his team for making it to back to back National Championship games," Martin told WVLT Sports.
The former Vol great added, "It’s an experience that he’s provided me and our family and I’m enjoying every bit of it. Definitely pulling for a Clemson win, but I’m also happy for Ed Orgeron, James Cregg, Tommie Robinson, and Kenechi Udeze and what they accomplished this year. Four men that I’ve worked with at USC over the years. Couldn’t ask for a better game!"
It's also an exciting night Oak Ridge native Tee Higgins, who played for the Wildcats and head coach Joe Gaddis. Despite getting hurt early in the national semifinal against the Buckeye’s, an injury that would force him to leave the game, Higgins would return in the second half to catch four passes for 33 yards, including a successful two-point conversion.
Clemson is trying to make it three national titles in four seasons. LSU is looking for its third in 17 years, and the SEC's 12th in the period.
This will be the fifth straight season the title game will match two teams from the Southeast. Including the Bowl Championship Series days, seven of the last nine national championship games have featured only teams from the Deep South.
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