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

Stormy weather big winner at 30th CNB Kickoff Classic

Stormy weather big winner at 30th CNB Kickoff ClassicTwo blowouts, a lightning delay and ultimately three of the [more]

Hemingway follows family, teammates to Gamecocks

Hemingway follows family, teammates to GamecocksSix minutes after his youngest child had announced his college [more]

Seahawks, Trojans, Chiefs in preseason football poll

Seahawks, Trojans, Chiefs in preseason football pollDefending state champion Myrtle Beach opened the 2019 preseason as [more]

Ten beach games that add fun to the sand, surf, sun

Ten beach games that add fun to the sand, surf, sunThe Grand Strand’s 60-mile strip of sand and surf is [more]

New blood infuses lineup for '19 Beach Ball Classic

New blood infuses lineup for '19 Beach Ball ClassicIt’s been quite some time since this much new blood [more]

Gray becomes first Chant to win SCGA Amateur title

Gray becomes first Chant to win SCGA Amateur titleCoastal Carolina rising sophomore Tyler Gray carded four-straight rounds of [more]

Renfrow comes full circle before making run at NFL

Renfrow comes full circle before making run at NFLThe past six months have been hectic ones for Hunter [more]

Surfoff makes waves for fun times, worthy cause

Surfoff makes waves for fun times, worthy causeThe water is a second home for August Powalie. The Myrtle [more]

Jordans go coast to coast for Junior Olympics meet

Jordans go coast to coast for Junior Olympics meetIt has been a long and winding trip to California [more]

Six former Pelicans make big-league leap to Cubs

Six former Pelicans make big-league leap to Cubs The distance from Myrtle Beach’s TicketReturn.com Stadium to Chicago’s Wrigley [more]

Local teams look ahead to 30th CNB Kickoff Classic

Local teams look ahead to 30th CNB Kickoff ClassicConway National Bank will sponsor the 30th annual CNB Kickoff [more]

CAC swimmers team up to capture six state titles

CAC swimmers team up to capture six state titlesSouth Carolina Swimming welcomed almost 800 swimmers from 25 Swim [more]

Surfers hang 10 for 20th Guy Daniels Memorial

Surfers hang 10 for 20th Guy Daniels MemorialAs surfers prepare to hit the South Strand this weekend [more]

Six MBTFC athletes make National Junior Olympics

Six MBTFC athletes make National Junior OlympicsThe Myrtle Beach Track & Field Club was represented by [more]

Beach volleyball growing on Grand Strand sand

Beach volleyball growing on Grand Strand sandWhat was once a leisurely pick-up game on the beach [more]

NMB boys hoops hopeful Walker in it for long haul

NMB boys hoops hopeful Walker in it for long haulNorth Myrtle Beach believes Ryan Walker is the person to [more]

Injury halts former Chant La Stella's All-Star debut

Injury halts former Chant La Stella's All-Star debut Former Coastal Carolina standout and Los Angeles Angels second baseman [more]

Pelicans well represented at All-Star Futures Game

Pelicans well represented at All-Star Futures GameMyrtle Beach Pelicans’ catcher Miguel Amaya has been selected to [more]

Baseball bonds all ages at Legends for Youth Clinic

Baseball bonds all ages 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]

Stormy weather big winner at 30th CNB Kickoff Classic

Stormy weather big winner at 30th CNB Kickoff ClassicTwo blowouts, a lightning delay and ultimately three of the [more]

Hemingway follows family, teammates to Gamecocks

Hemingway follows family, teammates to GamecocksSix minutes after his youngest child had announced his college [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