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

20 Comments

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)

Hawaii removes WR Melquise Stovall from program

Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich has announced the removal of wide receiver Melquise Stovall from the program, effective immediately. While no details about the removal from the program were given, Rolovich noted all players are held to certain standards that, apparently, Stovall was unable to meet.

“There are certain expectations required of a football student-athlete here at the University of Hawai’i,” Rolovich said in a released statement. “We hold all of our student-athletes to these standards and expect them to represent our football program to the highest degree. We wish Melquise the best as he moves forward.”

Stovall appeared in five games for Hawaii this season. In those five games, Stovall caught 18 passes for 248 yards and four touchdowns. During his freshman year at Cal, Stovall caught 42 passes for 415 yards and three touchdowns in 2016.

Miami’s N’Kosi Perry suffers shoulder injury after returning to starting lineup to replace injured Williams

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images
2 Comments

Well, this has to sting for the Miami Hurricanes. N’Kosi Perry, who recently was temporarily named the starting quarterback, suffered a shoulder injury in Miami’s loss over the weekend to Georgia Tech. The injury to Perry, a separated shoulder, was revealed to the media Monday by Miami offensive coordinator Dan Enos during a press conference according to The Miami Herald.

The shoulder injured is Perry’s left shoulder, his non-throwing shoulder. It is currently unknown how this injury may impact Perry’s availability for Miami’s road game this weekend at Pittsburgh.

“That’s up to our doctors and medical team to establish that,” Enos said.

Perry has started the last two games for Miami while starter Jarren Williams works his way back from his own shoulder injury. Williams did enter last weekend’s game in place of the injured Perry, but it is still unknown just when Williams will be ready to return to the starting role. With Perry’s status also now floating up in the air a bit, Miami could have a tough quarterback situation coming up this weekend against the Panthers. Third-string quarterback Tate Martell, who transferred from Ohio State after Justin Fields joined the Buckeyes from Georgia, would be the next in line for the Hurricanes if needed. But head coach Manny Diaz doesn’t seem to be thinking that will be necessary.

“We still have a package for Tate,” Diaz said. “But when I look at what we’re doing offensively now, and I look at our numbers … when Jarren has played and what N’Kosi has done over the last couple weeks have absolutely given us a chance to win all those games. And that’s nothing against Tate, but those guys are playing well.”

Whoever plays quarterback for Miami against the Panthers this week, it looks as though it will be either Perry or Williams.

Michigan safety J’Marick Woods enters transfer portal, looking to grad transfer

Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

While the Michigan Wolverines try to regroup and find a way to topple Notre Dame this week after a tough loss at Penn State, safety J’Marick Woods is the early stages of weighing his potential transfer options. Woods has reportedly entered the transfer portal.

As noted by Nick Baumgardner of The Athletic, Woods will be a graduate transfer, which will allow him to be eligible to play for any other FBS program next season. He has one final year of eligibility to use, so wherever he ends up will be for a one-year term.

Woods, a junior, has appeared in four games this season, in which he has recorded four tackles. Woods played in 11 games for Michigan last season and 12 games in 2017. The Alabama native may be better suited to finding a new opportunity as the Wolverines are in solid shape with depth in the secondary, and he was already playing a minimal role in the defense.

By entering the transfer portal, Woods is free to have contact with any other college football program interested in recruiting him to their program. Woods also has the option of pulling his name from the portal to remain at Michigan if he decides to stay put.

Injured Minnesota linebacker a game-time decision vs. Maryland

Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
2 Comments

The Minnesota Golden Gophers are looking to improve to 8-0 for the first time since winning the national championship in 1941 with an 8-0 record. When Minnesota returns home to face Maryland, a decision on whether or not linebacker Kamal Martin will be made.

Martin injured his right knee in last weekend’s road game at Rutgers, but head coach P.J. Fleck told reporters on Monday there is a chance the injury was not too serious. Fleck said Martin will be a game-time decision after monitoring his progress throughout the week and checking with trainers and medical staff to evaluate his availability.

“I don’t have a specific answer yet,” Fleck said on Monday, according to The Star Tribune. “He’s still got a few more tests. But we got some really good news, and that’s where we’re at.”

It’s possible Minnesota may not need their leading tackler to take care of Maryland at home this week, but having Martin healthy and ready to go for their following game may be essential. Minnesota hosts No. 6 Penn State on Nov. 9. The Gophers will have a bye week after playing Maryland to provide more possible rest for Martin if needed. even if Martin is ruled out for Maryland, it sounds as though Fleck is optimistic Martin will get to play against the Nittany Lions. If things work out, it could be a clash of undefeated Big Ten teams few expected could happen before the start of the season.