War Hero Fulfills College Football Dream with Help of Kindred Spirit in Clemson Coach

Discussion in 'Sports Zone' started by 03EBZ06, Aug 28, 2012.

  1. 03EBZ06

    03EBZ06 Need2Speed

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    On any given Sunday, you can find Clemson University's football coach, Dabo Swinney, in church. Swinney, a devout Christian, was joined in the congregation this summer by a young man who shares his passion for the gospel and the gridiron.

    Daniel Rodriguez met Swinney a few months ago, and has since moved to Clemson, South Carolina.

    Swinney thinks Rodriguez has a lot to offer his team that goes far beyond football.

    "To have that guy in the locker room, on this campus, with these fellas when we are not around, to have him on the bus, in the dining hall, that's priceless," says Swinney. "Once he came here, I was blown away with his drive to be the best, and that's what we talk about to our team all the time: Just do your best. Just take what God's given you, and you be your best."

    Rodriguez has been doing his best for the past two years, sculpting his 24-year-old body into perfect shape, so he can walk on and play Division I college football somewhere. At 5-8, 175 pounds, this overage, undersized war hero was a long shot at best. But the former Army sergeant has faith that he will make the grade.

    "There's not a single doubt in my body that I can perform at this level," Rodriguez says. "That's the mindset I've always had."

    That confidence comes from an unbreakable promise he made to a friend who was killed alongside him in a valley in eastern Afghanistan during one of the bloodiest battles in the war.

    Rodriguez says of the 27 soldiers killed in his unit during battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, the death of his friend Kevin Thomson was the most difficult to emotionally overcome.

    "That's what pushes me," he says. "I need to be everything I can be and more, because the air that I breathe is provided by those that have died."

    On Oct. 3, 2009, in what has become known as the Battle of Kamdesh, more than 300 Taliban insurgents stormed an American outpost, killing eight U.S. soldiers including Thomson.

    "He came out to get on the gun with me to start fighting. And as soon as he walked in front of me, he got hit in the head. And he dropped right by my feet."

    Rodriguez was among the 22 wounded. An estimated 150 Taliban were killed and Rodriguez received a Bronze Star.

    "It was written up ... heroic actions under fire and presented to me just because I didn't stop fighting," he says. "Came down to me throwing hand grenades, and killing at point-blank range."

    He says despite being wounded he kept fighting because he couldn't get over the fact that Thomson was dead, and he didn't want the enemy to think they got away with it.

    "I knew how many they were, but I was not going to stop shooting until it was done. And it just wasn't my day to go. And I got a medal for it."

    Weeks before Thomson's death, Rodriguez and Thomson made a pledge that if they survived their combat tour, they would pursue their dreams.

    Thompson wanted to be a butcher; Rodriguez wanted to play college football.

    "I gave him my word that I'd do everything I could to play football someday. I didn't really take to heart how serious I was gonna be about it until he was killed."

    For rest ---> http://www.thepostgame.com/blog/men...abo-swinney-clemson-tigers-football-walk-ncaa
  2. phillycard

    phillycard Member

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    Wow. Great story.

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