Iraq, Afghanistan veteran lends his leadership to Clemson football
During an October game against Georgia Tech, Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd was having an “off” moment. So he sought out teammate Daniel Rodriguez, 24, for a quick talk.
“He was like, ‘Man, just go out there and ball off with these guys,’” Boyd says. “He says stuff like that that sparks you. And he makes you appreciate things more – we complain and make excuses, but he reminds you that there are people out there risking their lives.”
Rodriguez, who served Army tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, is attending Clemson on the G.I. Bill and playing his first season with the Tigers. Just as important as his play on the field has been his impact off it, inspiring teammates through their 8-1 season.
School and Clemson football, Rodriguez says today, are “awesome.” But he’s overcome years of challenges to make it to Clemson. Read more from ESPN about how the death of his father, a military veteran, led him into the military, the dangers he faced during his service and his initial struggles when he returned home.
More about Daniel Rodriguez
Rodriguez first drew interest from Clemson (and other universities) with this video, in which he explained why he wanted to play football after leaving the military. More recent coverage of his journey:
Combat vet cleared to join Clemson, Associated Press, Aug. 5, 2012
A Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and Kickoff Coverage, The New York Times, Sept. 21, 2012
Wounded vet lives football dream for the fallen, CBS Evening News, Sept. 30, 2012