War vet, Purple Heart honoree close to walking on at Clemson

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Appropriately enough, given the holiday we are in the midst of celebrating, there is a pretty damn cool story developing at Clemson.

After starring at Brooke Pointe High School in Virginia, Daniel Rodriguez appeared set to embark on a playing career at the collegiate level. Tragically, his father died of a heart attack four days after Rodriguez graduated, pushing the player away from realizing his dream of playing college football and into a career in the military.

Rodriguez joined the Army in 2007 and, one month after completing basic training, began serving a 15-month tour of duty in Iraq as part of an infantry unit. He served a second tour in Afghanistan, losing eight friends in a fierce battle with the Taliban in October of 2009. For his heroics during that battle, he was awarded both the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Honorably discharged roughly six months later, Rodriguez began attending community college and resumed his effort to play football at the collegiate level. Rodriguez, the Greenville News writes in a very nice feature on the veteran, “began training tirelessly and produced a video that served as his recruiting film.”

While Rodriguez had hoped to remain in his home state and play for Virginia or Virginia Tech, the tape caught the attention of Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. After making two visits to the school, Rodriguez was offered the opportunity to become a walk-on for the Tigers by Swinney, a walk-on himself at Alabama in 1989 before earning a scholarship.

Rodriguez, a 5-8, 175-pounder who hopes to fill a role at slot receiver, is still awaiting clearance from the NCAA that would allow him to be eligible to play in 2012. When the NCAA does ultimately come to its senses and clears Rodriguez, the veteran doesn’t want a “play-for-pity arrangement,” the News writes.

“A handout is a shortcut to failure,” he said. “I don’t feel that I deserve anything. I don’t feel like I’m entitled to anything.

“I know there is a spotlight on my situation, but at the same time, I don’t feel like it’s been handed to me. I feel like I busted my butt in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I feel like I’ve busted it in the gym and in school to be given this chance.”

How can you not root for a young man like that, with that attitude and what he’s given to this country?

Fittingly, the paper also deftly fits in a discussion with Rodriguez regarding Arlington National Cemetery and how he wants to live his life honoring those killed in battle.

“I have friends buried there. I say my piece, and I always break down,” said Rodriguez…

“I definitely want to live my life better for the ones that have given everything,” he said. “A lot of people take stuff for granted and complain about things, when I’ve got mothers on my phone that are never going to see their sons again.

“I will never be over the losses 100 percent, but it’s what builds my character. It’s the foundation inside of me. You can have a foundation, or you can have an anchor. Both are solid and strong, but one is going to drag you down. The other is going to build you up.”

Damn. Again, how can you not root for Rodriguez?

Additionally, and for those who are interested, below is the video that caught Swinney’s attention. I’d strongly urge you to take seven minutes and some change out of your day to view it.

It would be well worth your time.

(Photo credit: Daniel Rodriguez)

Former Iowa State lineman Keenan Forbes signs with Wazzu

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After a brief junior-college pit stop, Keenan Forbes is back at a Power Five program.

Washington State confirmed over the weekend that Forbes has been added to the football program’s 2018 signing class.  The offensive lineman has already enrolled in classes at the university and is expected to take part in spring practice in a couple of months.

Counting 2018, Forbes will have three seasons of eligibility at his disposal.

A three-star member of Iowa State’s 2016 recruiting class, the Florida high schooler chose ISU over his other finalist, Temple.  After redshirting as a true freshman, Forbes opted to transfer from the Cyclones.

Forbes spent the 2017 season at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas.

Ryan Day expected to turn down NFL wooing, stay at Ohio State

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It appears Urban Meyer‘s coaching staff at Ohio State will (for now) remain intact after all.

Over the weekend, reports surfaced that Ryan Day was considering leaving his job as Ohio State’s quarterbacks coach to join former OSU assistant and newly-minted NFL head coach Mike Vrabel as the offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans.  A day later, one report has Day eschewing the NFL opportunity and remaining with Meyer and the Buckeyes.

Day just completed his first season with the Buckeyes, serving as both co-coordinator and quarterbacks coach.  He has been a solo coordinator twice in his coaching career — at Temple in 2012 and then in 2013-14 at Boston College.

Prior to coming to OSU, Day was the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016 and spent the 2015 season in the same job with the Philadelphia Eagles.  Those were his first two stints at the NFL level.

Given that OSU will be breaking in a new quarterback in 2018, keeping Day on the staff is a significant win for Meyer’s program.

Mark Dantonio brings Don Treadwell back to Michigan State staff

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Mark Dantonio has turned to an old coaching friend to fill a hole on his Michigan State coaching staff.

The football program announced Monday that Don Treadwell has been hired by the Spartans as the football program’s 10th assistant.  As for his duties, the school’s release states that “Treadwell will assist coaching defensive backs and special teams while also helping as an offensive consultant.”  On top of that, he will hold the newly-created title of freshman head coach, a role that will see the veteran work with “first-year players in their growth and development both on and off the field.”

Treadwell was Dantonio’s offensive coordinator at MSU from 2007-10 after serving in the same capacity for the head coach at Cincinnati from 2004-06.  He also had another stint with the Spartans, as wide receivers coach from 2000-02.  Dantonio was on that staff in 2000 as defensive backs coach.

The two also worked on the same staff together at Youngstown State in the eighties.

“He has a wealth of football knowledge, including head coaching experience, so he really understands the big picture of everything that is going on within the program,” Dantonio said in a statement. “Don was a part of our first Big Ten Championship and double-digit win season in 2010 and was the person in charge during my absence that year. He did an absolutely incredible job leading the program when I was gone.

“As a person, he’s extremely loyal and has a strong sense of integrity and morals. He understands the Spartan values that we have in our program from having been here before and knowing our staff.”

Treadwell left MSU after the 2010 season to take over as the head coach at Miami of Ohio.  He was fired after the fifth game of his third season, compiling an 8-21 record during his time at his alma mater.

The past four seasons, Treadwell was on the staff at Kent State.  He was the running backs coach in 2014 and coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2015-17 for the Golden Flashes.

NC State lines up home-and-homes with BYU, USF, La Tech

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NC State has lined up a series of home-and-homes with three future opponents, though, as of this writing, the Pack haven’t talked about any of them.

Their opponents have, though.

First up is South Florida. The Wolfpack and Bulls have inked a 2-game series calling for USF to visit Raleigh on Sept. 2, 2021 and NC State to visit Tampa on Sept. 14, 2024.

“We are excited to add N.C. State, a high-quality program that has played in four straight bowl games, to our football schedule,” USF AD Mark Harlan said in a statement. “Bulls football is sustaining a run of tremendous success and we will continue to seek exciting, top-level opponents to challenge during the non-conference season and bring to Raymond James Stadium.”

The two sides have met three times previously, with NC State holding a 2-1 edge and a win in their last meeting, a 49-17 blowout in 2014 in Tampa.

Next up is Louisiana Tech. NC State will actually play three future games with the Bulldogs, also beginning in 2021. NC State will host Louisiana Tech on Oct. 2, 2021 and Sept. 7, 2024, and visit Ruston, La., on Sept. 6, 2025. The Wolfpack and Bulldogs have played just once previously, a 40-14 NC State win to open the 2013 season.

Finally, NC State has also agreed to a home-and-home with BYU, calling for BYU to visit Raleigh on Nov. 9, 2024, and NC State to return the favor on Aug. 29, 2030.

NC State and BYU have never played previously.

The 2030 game is not the furthest out game on the NC State schedule. As per the Irish’s agreement with the ACC, NC State is slated for a TBD visit to Notre Dame at some point in the year 2037. The freshmen in that game have yet to be born.