How Daniel Rodriguez went from U.S. Army veteran to Clemson football player (video)
By JACK FEELEY
The Clemson football team has a new player in its locker room at Memorial Stadium.
But before Daniel Rodriguez was a football recruit, he was another kind of recruit: a U.S. Army recruit. Prior to ever donning the Tigers jersey, he donned Army camouflage and combat gear. And after two arduous tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Rodriguez came home with a purpose, and a promise.
During his time in the Army, Rodriguez often talked about following his dream with fellow combatant and best friend, Pfc. Kevin Thompson. The two made a promise to each other to follow their dreams after the Army; only Thompson never got the chance. He was killed in a firefight in Kamdesh, Afghanistan, while Rodriguez suffered shrapnel wounds. Daniel received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart and was honorably discharged in 2010.
Wounds or no wounds, Rodriguez had a promise to fulfill. He began grueling workouts that would sometimes last half a day. A friend filmed his workouts and uploaded the video to YouTube, trying to get the attention of college scouts.
That video caught the eye of Clemson football coach, Dabo Sweeney, a former walk-on himself at Alabama. Despite the massive amount of paperwork that had to be filed with the NCAA, Rodriguez was eventually cleared to join the Tigers as a walk-on, making good on his promise.
Daniel will join the Tigers for the 2012 season, as he was just recently officially cleared by both the NCAA and ACC to play.
Watch a video on his incredible story here: