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War vet, Purple Heart recipient officially a Clemson Tiger

Daniel Rodriguez

Tired of all the crap surrounding the game of college football these days?  If so, this one will lift your spirits.

As we’ve noted on a couple of occasions around these parts over the past couple of months, 24-year-old Daniel Rodriguez, a veteran of two tours of duty — one in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan — and recipient of both a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, was attempting to resurrect his playing career by walking on to the Clemson football team.

In late June, the NCAA, in a rare moment of clarity and humanity, ruled Rodriguez eligible for the 2012 season.  Tuesday, Rodriguez’s dream continued as he officially became a member of the Tigers football program as a walk-on.

The school announced the move via a press release.

“I am very happy for Daniel,” said Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney in a statement. “He is getting the opportunity to follow his dream. We are excited to have him join our program. I have no doubt that he will become a great leader for us. His background and story is an inspiration to us all.”

After starring at Brooke Pointe High School in Virginia, 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 and 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, who will attend Clemson on the G.I. Bill, is expected to compete for playing time as a slot receiver, and will wear No. 83.

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18 Responses to “War vet, Purple Heart recipient officially a Clemson Tiger”
  1. tlmoon2112 says: Aug 1, 2012 11:06 AM


  2. thraiderskin says: Aug 1, 2012 11:14 AM

    wow… I’m proud of this guy, I’m also a little proud of the NCAA for doing what is right.

  3. 700levelvet says: Aug 1, 2012 11:14 AM

    A walk on?……..Seriously……So he has to earn his scholarship after fighting in two tours of duty?…….A bronze star and a purple heart, a hero….I don’t care about no GI bill, colleges give out 4 years of free education to complete morons and criminals……..but this young man has to walk on? This is what’s wrong with America…..No way any major college program doesn’t have a roster spot for him…Damn shame…You have a born leader, but it depends on if the school can make any money off of him….This is a true hero….I wish him the best and i hope he achieves his goals…………..but it’s just wrong

  4. alligatorsnapper says: Aug 1, 2012 11:47 AM

    Coach Swinney offered Rodriquez the same path to full scholarship that he himself received during his playing days. Great coach. NCAA finally got something right.

    Congrats to you American Hero Rodriguez and to Coach Swinney for having and demonstrating class and good judgment!

  5. kozbee says: Aug 1, 2012 11:48 AM

    Welcome home VET and thank you for serving our country.Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal with Valor.Two Tours of Duty,we salute you.SEC.

  6. houndofthebaskervols says: Aug 1, 2012 12:08 PM

    Great story, good luck to the young man! Nice job Dabo.

  7. houndofthebaskervols says: Aug 1, 2012 12:27 PM

    @ velvet

    Just shut up fer cryin out loud. The kid hasnt even suited up for Clemson yet and you’re already whining about handing him a scholarship? I bet you still have the trophies you got for playing T-Ball. Sheesh.

  8. TxGrown says: Aug 1, 2012 1:17 PM

    Daniel Rodriguez = Hero (as for all our troops).
    Thumbs up Clemson!

  9. cubano76 says: Aug 1, 2012 1:20 PM

    Hell Yeah!!!!! Good for him. Thank you Daniel, and BEST of Luck.

  10. nodindenver says: Aug 1, 2012 1:33 PM

    About time the media reports something positive. Thanks for your service Daniel and thanks be to Dabo for giving the young man a chance. It is good to be a Clemson fan today!

  11. gotigers01 says: Aug 1, 2012 3:56 PM

    Daniel Rodriguez is attending Clemson for free on the GI bill. He doesn’t need a scholarship.

  12. myopinionisrighterthanyours says: Aug 1, 2012 4:07 PM


    While I can understand where you are coming from, you obviously have no idea how NCAA football scholarships work. I can practically guarantee Clemson doesn’t have an extra one lying around to give to this spectacular young man. You are only allowed 25 per year and 85 total. Assuming Clemson is at one or the other, or both, it doesn’t matter how much they would want to do the seemingly right thing. It would take someone losing theirs to free up one. All the best to this young man, I hope to hear good things. And this is not this first time Sweeney has done something like this. Extra kudos to him.

  13. orangeandwhite says: Aug 1, 2012 7:50 PM


    If you had a clue instead of spewing out your a*&hole the only reason the NCAA allowed him to play this year was because he did not have an athletic scholarship and was attending on the GI Bill. Search the internet and you will see what I am saying is true. Dabo was a walk-on who got a scholarship his second season. The same happened to me in baseball as a walk-on at D1 level. Take a chill pill and go back to watching Fox News.

    PS I’m a jarhead thru and thru but understand what is going on here

  14. houndofthebaskervols says: Aug 1, 2012 8:20 PM

    To the retards patting the NCAA on the back over this….. THEY GET NO CREDIT AT ALL!!!!

    As a Preferred Walkon, all he had to do was provide transcripts and test scores, then pass a physical. The NCAA played no part in this, all he had to do was register with the NCAA….no such thing as an “approval” if your grades are in order and you’ve been welcomed by the coach.

  15. tides1 says: Aug 2, 2012 4:36 AM

    I back Alabama , have all my life. I respect Coach Swinney for giving this man the same chance he himself had & made. This guy probably has more character than any of his recruits. I am a Tide fan and will pull for Clemson too. Thank you Daniel and best of luck to you !

  16. aggietruth says: Aug 2, 2012 6:17 PM

    Good job Dabo and Clemson from this OKState fan! 😉

  17. taino1751 says: Aug 3, 2012 5:15 AM

    I’d like to correct the moron that thinks the G.I. Bill is free, if you call bullets flying through and around you free, then I’d like to see you get your free g.i. bill. To all morons that think the G.I. Bill is free, let me see you get one that is free(no tour of duty, no enlistment). Thanks to all American veterans for their past, present and future service defending our country! Navy D-521023

  18. thomsonsmom says: Aug 14, 2012 8:29 PM

    Thank you for clearing up the G.I. Bill is free! Daniel has worked hard and will continue to do so. He is an amazing young man, friend, brother and son. Keep up the great work Daniel…I will see you son kiddo…Hooah!

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