Purple Heart recipient gets chance to suit up for Tigers

For the first time in six years, Daniel Rodriguez put on a football helmet Wednesday.

Although that doesn’t sound like a big deal to most, it is for Rodriguez, a 24-year old Army Veteran who was approved to join the Clemson football team earlier this week.

This time three years ago, Rodriguez was in the hospital recovering from a gunshot wound suffered in the battle of Kamdesh.  On October 3, 2009, more than 300 Taliban forces assaulted Rodriguez and his 29 fellow solders at the American Combat Outpost Keating, near the town of Kamdesh in eastern Afghanistan.

The attack was one of the bloodiest battles for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, resulting in the death of eight Americans soldiers, while 22 others were wounded. It also was one of the driving forces as to why Rodriguez was being fitted for a football helmet.

Keeping a promise he made to himself and his friend Kevin Thompson, one of the eight soldiers who gave his life in the battle of Kamdesh, Rodriguez will join the rest of the defending ACC Champion Clemson Tigers on Friday when they hit the practice fields for the first time-the first official day of football camp.

“When I got out of the military, I made a promise to a friend that I was going to play college football,” he said. “I did not want my life to amount to just military. I went in with the idea that it was just going to be a (stepping stone) for my future.

“What I did not do out of high school was follow my heart and play football. I made that pact with my friend that I was going to play college football when I got out, and then he was killed during that battle.”

Once Rodriguez was discharged from the Army, he quickly started fulfilling his promise. He started attending classes near his hometown of Stafford, VA. He also got back into football.

“I got back in the swing of things and started training about six hours a day,” he said.

Soon, with the encouragement of friends, Rodriguez produced a workout video that he sent to college coaches around the country in hopes of getting a tryout or two. With the request of college recruiters to put the workout on YouTube, Rodriguez’s story went viral and so did his life story.

This got the attention of many schools, including his home state schools of Virginia and Virginia Tech. But it also caught the eye of Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney, who sent Rodriguez this message.

“I saw your video and would love to talk with you about an opportunity to come to Clemson.”

Clemson used a waiver called the 24-transfer waiver, which waives the Associates Degree and allows an athlete to come in and play who is not a qualifier out of high school. Rodriguez was only one credit shy of an Associates Degree, so Clemson put in a request to the NCAA under the 24-transfer rule to see what would happen.

When learning Clemson was able to go the extra mile to get him to school and become eligible, Rodriguez agreed to take a visit to the school during his spring break earlier this year.

“I wanted to see what (Clemson) was all about,” he said. “When I came down, that sealed the deal. I didn’t care how long it took me to come here. I knew I was going to play here.

“(Clemson going to bat for me) was the ultimate factor because Coach Dabo wanted to take that risk. He wanted to take that leap.”

That leap of faith was awarded Tuesday when the NCAA and the ACC officially approved his waiver, allowing him to be a full-time student-athlete on the football team.

“You always dream of that second chance to play football again,” Rodriguez said. “I’m in that position. I have that second opportunity that so many people have said, ‘I wish I could get one more shot.’

“Well, now it is my shot. I have that opportunity, thanks to the NCAA, the ACC and Clemson.   That helmet is on my head. I have a school that I’m proud to be a part of, and now I’m going to let it all loose.”

Photo courtesy of CU Athletics

Comments

comments

Lady Chants' rally falls short in loss to Nebraska

Lady Chants' rally falls short in loss to NebraskaThe Coastal Carolina women's basketball team suffered its second loss [more]

Runners pound pavement for Turkey Trot road races

Runners pound pavement for Turkey Trot road racesSixteen-year-old Rory Legg-Bell of Hillsborough, NC, was the first to [more]

Chants slam St. Andrews; Shaw tallies 1,000th point

Chants slam St. Andrews; Shaw tallies 1,000th pointDemario Beck scored 12 points and had 15 rebounds in [more]

Girls Hoops: CF rips net, Braves in Sand & Hoops

Girls Hoops: CF rips net, Braves in Sand & HoopsThe girls high school basketball season is only beginning, yet [more]

Saints step up to capture Bulldog Shootout crown

Saints step up to capture Bulldog Shootout crownThe Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach boys basketball team not [more]

Hoops: CF, Socastee, SJ win tournament openers

Hoops: CF, Socastee, SJ win tournament openersThe Carolina Forest High girls basketball team needed a little [more]

Coastal upsets Clemson, marches on to Sweet 16

Coastal upsets Clemson, marches on to Sweet 16Martin Melchor scored two goals and had an assist while [more]

Beach United teams close fall season in Wilmington

Beach United teams close fall season in WilmingtonThe Beach United Football Club saw eight teams close out [more]

CAC swimmers dominate podium at regional meet

CAC swimmers dominate podium at regional meetPalmetto Aquatics (PALM) hosted the 2017 Thanksgiving Invite Meet on [more]

Coastal repeats as SBC champ, awaits NCAA foe

Coastal repeats as SBC champ, awaits NCAA foeThe Coastal Carolina volleyball team defeated #2 Texas State in [more]

Local hoops season tips off with two girls tourneys

Local hoops season tips off with two girls tourneysWinter might still be a month away, but the high [more]

Gamecocks net fifth place in Puerto Rico Tip-Off

Gamecocks net fifth place in Puerto Rico Tip-OffSouth Carolina men's basketball coach Frank Martin claimed his 100th [more]

Cuthbertson's career-high 31 points lead Chants' win

Cuthbertson's career-high 31 points lead Chants' winZac Cuthbertson torched the nets for 31 points in leading [more]

Chants handle Vandals, score first Sun Belt win

Chants handle Vandals, score first Sun Belt winIdaho scored on the opening possession of the game but [more]

Saints open season with wins, reach tourney final

Saints open season with wins, reach tourney finalThe Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach boys basketball team opened [more]

CCU men fall to Vermont; Lady Chants blast UNCW

CCU men fall to Vermont; Lady Chants blast UNCWZac Cuthbertson scored a game-high 23 points and had another [more]

Lady Chants spike Wolves, reach Sun Belt title game

Lady Chants spike Wolves, reach Sun Belt title gameThe Coastal Carolina volleyball team is making its second straight [more]

Chiefs stumble at Stags, suffer first loss of season

Chiefs stumble at Stags, suffer first loss of season North Myrtle Beach's record-setting season came to an end Friday [more]

Chants land in Bahamas with hot hand for hoops

Chants land in Bahamas with hot hand for hoopsFour players reached double digits for Coastal Carolina in the [more]

Gamecocks bounce back, blow out UTEP in Conway

Gamecocks bounce back, blow out UTEP in ConwaySouth Carolina's debut in the Puerto Rico Classic at the [more]

Beach Ball Classic lineup has big names, top teams

Beach Ball Classic lineup has big names, top teamsThe 2017 Beach Ball Classic announced its schedule for the [more]

Coastal shuts out Mercer, advances to face Clemson

Coastal shuts out Mercer, advances to face ClemsonFrantzdy Pierrot teamed up with Martin Melchor to give the [more]

Chants go west in quest for first Sun Belt victory

Chants go west in quest for first Sun Belt victoryThe Coastal Carolina football team (1-9, 0-6 Sun Belt) will [more]

Redbirds top Gamecocks in opener of PR Tip-Off

Redbirds top Gamecocks in opener of PR Tip-OffThe South Carolina men's basketball team has home court of [more]

CCU men, women suffer narrow six-point losses

CCU men, women suffer narrow six-point lossesJaylen Shaw scored 17 points, but it was not enough [more]

Lady Chants' rally falls short in loss to Nebraska

Lady Chants' rally falls short in loss to NebraskaThe Coastal Carolina women's basketball team suffered its second loss [more]

Runners pound pavement for Turkey Trot road races

Runners pound pavement for Turkey Trot road racesSixteen-year-old Rory Legg-Bell of Hillsborough, NC, was the first to [more]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2017 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach