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

Baseball bonds young, old at Legends for Youth Clinic

Baseball bonds young, old at Legends for Youth ClinicEight former big leaguers - and about 60 aspiring ones [more]

Jordans lead MBTFC to wins at Junior Olympics

Jordans lead MBTFC to wins at Junior OlympicsThe Myrtle Beach Track & Field Club was represented by [more]

Hunter brings new energy to MB volleyball program

Hunter brings new energy to MB volleyball program New Myrtle Beach High volleyball coach Alyssa Hunter knows she [more]

Soccer Locker ready for final horn after 25 years

Soccer Locker ready for final horn after 25 yearsA child steps up to the counter to purchase his [more]

MB Track and Field Club flies high at Florence meet

MB Track and Field Club flies high at Florence meetThe Myrtle Beach Track & Field Club combined boys and [more]

Rivers named honorable mention All-American

Rivers named honorable mention All-AmericanCoastal Carolina senior outfielder Kieton Rivers was recognized as a [more]

Trio of Pelicans pitchers are midseason All-Stars

Trio of Pelicans pitchers are midseason All-StarsMyrtle Beach right-handed pitchers Javier Assad, Jesus Camargo and Paul [more]

Grand Strand rec athletes find passion for pickleball

Grand Strand rec athletes find passion for pickleballNearly 100 local recreational athletes put themselves in a real [more]

CCU football loses legend with retirement of Glenn

CCU football loses legend with retirement of GlennCoastal Carolina football chief of staff and director of football [more]

Chants' season ends with stinging defeat to Jackets

Chants' season ends with stinging defeat to JacketsCoastal Carolina baseball had its season come to an end [more]

Coastal wrangles Rattlers to stay alive in Regional

Coastal wrangles Rattlers to stay alive in RegionalThe Chanticleers took an early 3-0 lead and did not [more]

MB Track & Field Club shines at Club Challenge

MB Track & Field Club shines at Club ChallengeThe Myrtle Beach Track and Field Club welcomed 22 clubs [more]

Chants battered by Tigers, drop into losers bracket

Chants battered by Tigers,  drop into losers bracketCoastal Carolina baseball saw a 2-2 tie disappear in the [more]

Chiefs seeking sixth boys hoops coach in nine years

Chiefs seeking sixth boys hoops coach in nine yearsNorth Myrtle Beach is looking for a new boys basketball [more]

Grand Strand dominates state golf course rankings

Grand Strand dominates state golf course rankings Golfweek has unveiled its annual list of the “Best Courses [more]

Hemingway narrows his college wish list to five

Hemingway narrows his college wish list to fiveTonka Hemingway has played enough games with opposing offensive linemen. He’s [more]

Chants headed to Atlanta, face Auburn in first round

Chants headed to Atlanta, face Auburn in first roundCoastal Carolina baseball received the No. 3 seed in the [more]

Chants dig deep, defend Sun Belt championship

Chants dig deep, defend Sun Belt championshipCoastal Carolina outscored the Georgia Southern Eagles 9-1 over the [more]

Chants take doubleheader, reach Sun Belt title game

Chants take doubleheader, reach Sun Belt title gameThe Chanticleers scored nine runs over the first three innings [more]

Seahawks let state golf title slip from their grip

Seahawks let state golf title slip from their gripSports can be both heartwarming and heartbreaking. The full range [more]

Chants use walk-off home run to stay alive in Sun Belt

Chants use walk-off home run to stay alive in Sun BeltZach Biermann's third home run of the night with two [more]

Myrtle Beach's Doty heads to nation's top QB camp

Myrtle Beach's Doty heads to nation's top QB camp Luke Doty’s Myrtle Beach legacy already includes some gaudy numbers, [more]

CCU drops Sun Belt debut; faces elimination Thursday

CCU drops Sun Belt debut; faces elimination ThursdayCoastal Carolina baseball surrendered eight runs over the last three [more]

Chants win season finale; host Sun Belt tournament

Chants win season finale; host Sun Belt tournamentA two hour and five minute-lightning delay nor two Appalachian [more]

Clemson hammers Coastal with early offensive barrage

Clemson hammers Coastal with early offensive barrageSimilar to the two teams' first meeting back on March [more]

Baseball bonds young, old at Legends for Youth Clinic

Baseball bonds young, old at Legends for Youth ClinicEight former big leaguers - and about 60 aspiring ones [more]

Jordans lead MBTFC to wins at Junior Olympics

Jordans lead MBTFC to wins at Junior OlympicsThe Myrtle Beach Track & Field Club was represented by [more]

Leave a Reply

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

© 2019 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach