Returning Army veteran Daniel Rodriguez, is getting an once in a lifetime chance to take his place on the roster at one the most premier and recognizable college football teams, after the emergence of superstar WR Sammy Watkins at Clemson University.
Rodriguez enlisted in the United States Army in 2007. Exactly one month later, after completing basic training; Rodriguez deployed with his infantry unit for a lengthy 15-month tour of duty in Iraq. If that wasn’t enough like most Airmen, Marines, Sailors and Soldiers; Rodriguez served a second tour in Afghanistan. This ghastly tour cost Daniel eight of his closest friends and comrades in a ferocious fire-fight between his infantry unit and the Taliban in October of 2009. Rodriguez was awarded both the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his heroics and leadership because of this conflict.
After serving his country proudly, Rodriguez decided to end his heroic military career and was Honorably discharged. Rodriguez began using his benefits he rightfully earned and attended a local community college in his home state of Virginia. During this time Daniel began to seek a chance to play wide-receiver at the collegiate level. Daniel once again applied his courage and leadership and devoted himself to the gym, coupled with countless and relentless hours of hard-hitting workouts. Daniel was driven by his motivation that a collegiate team may give him one shot to prove himself. The Greenville News heard of Rodriguez and his valiant story and decided to help the veteran out by writing an extraordinary column and helped produce a video which served as his recruiting video.
It was not long before Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney heard of Rodriguez and his accomplishments and devotions to both the military and football. Swinney offered Rodriguez his dream of playing collegiate football as a walk-on for Clemson University. Swinney being a walk-on himself at the University of Alabama in 1989, knows all too well the importance of walk-ons and the vital role they play in the locker-room. Rodriguez will indubitably be a presence that will guide young student-athletes in the right direction both on and off the football field.
Rodriguez is awaiting clearance from the NCAA that will allow him to qualify to play in 2012. Once the NCAA allows Rodriguez to become a student-athlete, the seasoned-veteran doesn’t want a “play-for-pity arrangement,” according to the News.
Daniel went on to say “A handout is a shortcut to failure; I don’t feel that I deserve anything. I don’t feel like I’m entitled to anything.” Rodriguez also said “I know there is a spotlight on my situation, but at the same time, I don’t feel like it’s been handed to me. I feel like I busted my butt in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I feel like I’ve busted it in the gym and in school to be given this chance.” Guess what sir? You did! No one can ever take away from you. You’re an idol for all armed forces members who have served their country bravely and courageously, for that we thank you. Coach Swinney and the rest of Clemson University should be honored and humbled by your presence. Good-luck Rodriguez you have the entire Armed Forces rooting for you!
Filed under: NCAA