War vet, Purple Heart recipient officially a Clemson Tiger

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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.

Knee injury knocks Boston College QB Anthony Brown out for a second season

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Anthony Brown had his redshirt freshman season cut short due to a knee injury, battled back to start all 12 games in 2018 and BC’s first six contests this fall, until yet another knee injury knocked him out for another season.

Boston College head coach Steve Addazio revealed Monday that Brown will miss the remainder of the season with what the school is calling a “lower leg injury.” Brown made a cut avoiding a tackle during BC’s Oct. 5 game against Louisville and immediately clutched his left knee. Boston College lost the game, 41-39, though Brown began the contest 6-of-7 for 193 yards and a touchdown.

“We’re very, very sad for Anthony. He worked hard to get himself where he was. He’s seventh all-time in passing in BC history and heading towards greater things this year. He’s had a great career and he’s prepared and practiced and put so much into it. We’re so proud of him,” Addazio said.

The fourth-year junior from Cliffwood, N.J., finishes his season 81-of-137 for 1,250 yards with nine touchdowns against two interceptions while rushing for 128 yards and two scores.

“It’s a tough deal, but he’s a tough guy and he’ll bounce back,” Addazio said. “We’re gonna love him and support him and get him back to where he was, but his season has come to an end.”

Brown can return as a fifth-year senior in 2020, with two year-ending knee injuries under his belt, literally and figuratively.

Virginia loses CB Bryce Hall for the season

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Virginia has lost cornerback Bryce Hall for the season, head coach Bronco Mendenhall revealed Monday.

He suffered an ankle injury in Virginia’s loss to Miami on Friday and underwent surgery on Monday, which will spell the end of his college career. The injury came while Hall was blocking on a punt return. Trainers put the injured ankle in an air cast and, while players on both teams gave him good wishes, ESPN decided the injury was gruesome enough that it would not air replays of the play.

“Bryce Hall is in good spirits,” Mendenhall said. “We expect a good recovery, he sustained a left ankle injury and had surgery Monday. We do not expect him back this season. He is an amazing young person, I am thankful for his efforts and to be his coach. On the bus after the game, Bryce was sitting behind me and he said to me, ‘Coach, I’m a human buoy.’ He has been exemplary in everything he has done here.”

Hall is the best player on Virginia’s roster. The Harrisburg, Pa., senior entered the season a Preseason All-American on multiple lists and led the nation in 2018 with 24 passes defended. He also posted two interceptions and 62 tackles, earning him First Team All-ACC honors.

 

South Carolina apologizes for hedge-ripping after Gamecocks upset of No. 10 Georgia

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South Carolina pulled the upset of the season on Saturday, knocking off then-No. 3 Georgia 20-17 in overtime, in Athens. And the ‘Cocks left Sanford Stadium with souvenirs, claiming some of Georgia’s famous hedges for themselves.

Some hedges were even seen in the hands of South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp, a Georgia player and former Bulldog.

While some may call it good, old victory fun, Georgia AD Greg McGarity did not have a sense of humor about his shrubbery getting ripped up.

“I don’t like it all,” he told DawgNation. “We sure don’t do that when we win at an opponents’ venue under Kirby’s leadership.”

McGarity also said his South Carolina counterpart, Ray Tanner, apologized for his team’s postgame celebration.

“Ray just apologized for those actions,” he told the site.

UTSA QB Frank Harris lost for the year

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UTSA quarterback Frank Harris will miss the remainder of the season with an upper body injury, head coach Frank Wilson announced Monday. The nature of the injury was not disclosed.

Harris has not played since originally suffering the injury in a 45-3 loss to North Texas on Sept. 21. He was on the sideline in a sling during the Roadrunners’ loss to UAB on Saturday.

A second-year player from the San Antonio era, Harris has missed most or all of the last three seasons while dealing with injuries. He appeared in eight games as a senior at Schertz Clemens High School, then missed all of 2018 with an ACL injury.

In three full games this season (he did not throw a pass against North Texas), Harris completed 66-of-91 passes for 486 yards with three touchdowns against two interceptions while rushing for 126 yards.

In Harris’ absence, UTSA has turned to LSU transfer Lowell Narcisse, who went 8-of-19 for 94 yards while rushing for 89 yards and a touchdown in a 33-14 loss to UAB.