On Veterans Day we take time to pay tribute to all of those who served our country. With the day set aside to honor our nation’s veterans, the Football Writers Association of America has honored Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez with the Armed Forces Merit Award.
The Armed Forces Merit Award is presented to an individual or group with a military background who has found a way to leave an impact on the football field. Rodriguez, a senior playing special teams for the Tigers, served in the Army from 2006 through 2010 and saw action in Afghanistan in 2009. Rodriguez was wounded in battle against the Taliban and was awarded a Purple Heart.
Rodriguez went on to walk on to the Clemson program in 2012 and has since appeared in 35 consecutive games. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to have an impact on special teams for any team, and sometimes that effort can go unnoticed by many. But Rodriguez has helped teach Clemson’s players many lessons about leadership and commitment, and that has not gone without recognition from teammates past and present as well as head coach Dabo Swinney.
Swinney says of Rodriguez his “presence has helped the team, and he never forces his leadership. It has really made the team appreciate our military, and realize that there are a lot more problems in the world than our third-down conversion rate.”
“I loved having him on our team,” former Clemson wide receiver and current Buffalo Bills receiver Sammy Watkins said of Rodriguez. “He’s a motivator, and he brings fire to our team. Daniel’s hyped up every day, hyped up just to be living. We know what he’s been through. I like the way he comes in every day and goes to work, just like everybody else. He practices hard, he plays hard.”
Past recipients of the Armed Forces Merit Award include Nate Boyer of Texas and Brandon McCoy of North Texas. Rodriguez is attending Clemson on the GI Bill.