Purple Heart Tiger scores on Military Appreciation Day
On Clemson's day for honoring U.S. military men and women, its own Daniel Rodriguez, who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, had a moment to remember.
Clemson receiver Daniel Rodriguez (left) celebrates his touchdown against Citadel on Saturday.
RAINIER EHRHARDT / FR155191 AP
By Tully Corcoran
By the time he graduated from high school in 2006, Daniel Rodriguez had lost his father to a heart attack and his opportunity to go to college to bad grades. His family was cracking, too, and Rodriguez needed to get away.
So he went to his local Army recruiter.
"Get me out of here," he said, according to a USA Today story.
Well, the Army is pretty good about that. It sent him to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rodriguez was among 22 American soldiers wounded in the Battle of Kamdesh in 2009. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal for valor.
After his tours ended, he returned to civilian life, the idea being to play college football. The 5-foot-8 Rodriguez had been a three-year letterman at Brooke Point High in Stafford, Va., playing every position you can imagine a guy that size playing. The only thing he didn't do was kick.
Now 24, Rodriguez got NCAA clearance over the summer to walk on to Clemson's football team. Saturday, on Military Appreciation Day at Clemson, in front of a crowd soaked in purple for a "purple out," Rodriguez scored a touchdown.
Clemson (10-1) beat Citadel 52-6 with Rodriguez scoring the final touchdown on a two-yard reception. He finished with two catches for minus-1 yard and a touchdown.
Rodriguez has played in all 11 games for the Tigers, catching 23 passes for 53 yards and a touchdown.