Rodriguez hopes his story serves as an inspiration


by - Senior Writer -
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Rodriguez has been working out in Death Valley to prepare for the season

CLEMSON – Daniel RodriguezDaniel Rodriguez
Fr. Athlete
# 5-8, 175
Stafford, VA

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still has his bad days, days when a loud or sudden noise causes him to jump in fear. He still has restless nights, with sleep eluding him as bad dreams infringe on what for most people is a time to recharge for another day.

Clemson’s newest walk-on player isn’t just another person, however. He is an Army veteran who was wounded yet survived a bloody battle in the mountains of Afghanistan in October of 2009. His unit – a total of 30 American soldiers – was overrun by elements of the Taliban numbering over 300.

He survived, and he brought home not only the physical scars from being wounded in the service of his country, but the mental scars as well. He was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, after returning back to the United States.

Counseling didn’t seem to help, so he sought solace in a sanctuary that he once held dear – sports. With that in mind, he decided to keep a pact he made with one of his closest friends in his unit, Kevin C. Thompson of Reno. Nevada. He promised his friend that if he made it back to the states, he would try and follow his dream and play football again.

Rodriguez held that promise even dearer to his heart because Thompson was killed during the battle, and he wanted to honor the memory of his friend by honoring that pact.

And now, he uses sports as therapy to help him through the rough times.

“I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I don’t think anyone that came off that mountain alive wasn’t,” Rodriguez told the Clemson media Wednesday in the WestZone. “I have had sleepless nights, and I went to counseling. But ultimately my therapy was what I gave up at such a young age. That was sports. When I get in the weight room, when I get on the field, when I put on those cleats – it’s just one of the things that clears my mind and puts me at ease. My well-being that I abandoned is back.”

Now, Rodriguez wants to use his story as a vehicle to help others.

“I hope my story can help veterans with PTSD or kids with bad grades,” he said. “Let me be a role model to show people that you can get back what you love, that hard work does pay off and that you can beat PTSD. You can do these things.”

Rodriguez said that he hopes he can also help out his new team, both on and off the field.

“I am not a highly-scouted prospect that is expected to change this program,” he said. “There is no pressure. I am just another cog in the wheel. And maybe I can help guys become a better player on the field or in their lives as well. If I make a catch or a tackle on special teams, that is just a bonus. A lot of people want one more shot. I have that shot, and I have a school that I am proud to be a part of. I am going to let it all loose.”

Despite everything he went through, he wants his teammates to look beyond what he endured on that mountaintop in Afghanistan and look at what he has accomplished since that time.

“You weren’t there to see the color. You – as my teammate – you weren’t there to see the bullet go through my shoulder,” he said. “You don’t have blood on your boots. You don’t have brains still on your clothing. You can't take what I have seen and just to tell it to them and not have the realities there. But anything I can do as far as my perseverance goes will help. I don’t believe in quitting. I’ve overcome the odds many times. I was outnumbered 10-to-1 and I did my share to get here. If I can show work ethic to never be satisfied, I hope that rubs off on somebody. I think that with my story, my background, if that just generates some kind of fuel in the locker room, I think that will be pretty good.”

His owns thoughts are never far from that mountaintop in Afghanistan, and the pact he made with a friend who won't be there to see him run down The Hill. And it pushes him.

“I know who I am doing it for,” he said. “You should never shut out what has changed you in life. I am using the hardships, the horrors, the killing and the friends I have lost as the fuel to get where I want to be. If you can use the negative for something good, then you are on top. I plan on playing in every game. And I don’t have any doubt that I will get on the field somehow because that is just how I am.”




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Subject (Replies: 34) Author
Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopes his story serves as an inspiration
B-Meist®
This kid is as impressive as it gets!!!!!
albertk®
Re: This kid is as impressive as it gets!!!!!
AFtigers87®
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopes his story serves as an inspriration
TigerHawk76®
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopes his story serves as an inspriration
TFL
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopes his story serves as an inspriration
VATIGER84
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopes his story serves as an inspriration
JBTiger1980®
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopes his story serves as an inspriration
QCTiger32
his attitude and maturity is amazing to me, i understand he
sav82tiger
Re: his attitude and maturity is amazing to me, i understand he
TigerHawk76®
Re: his attitude and maturity is amazing to me, i understand he
AFtigers87®
When you're an infantryman
orngpurple®
Re: When you're an infantryman
JBTiger1980®
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopes his story serves as an inspriration
dhtigerchick
I can't imagine how freakin' loud it's going to be...
TigerEric35®
I want to buy his jersey--
under11par®
I just want to shake his hand.
TigerHawk76®
I want to take a dump on his car and apologize for it.***
deleted
I've done that...
baseball fan
Rodriguez Photos
123me
Re: Rodriguez Photos
deroberts
Re: Rodriguez Photos
prescotttiger
Re: Looks like he's running the stadium wearing the mask
deleted
Running is abt 10 times harder...
TigerLight
Re: Rodriguez Photos
cu77tiger®
Hang in there Daniel. Visit those mountains that you
clover65®
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopes his story serves as an inspriration
ParaPawz®
I wonder how much of the Clemson media beat played HS ball?***
ArmyRanger28®
i've never rooted harder for a kid in my life.....
orngpurple®
I never post but.....................
CUtigers96
Yep, On Military Appreciation Day
GrayBengal®
I can't help but admire this young man
camdentiger09
Re: Front Page Story: Rodriguez hopes his story serves as an inspriration
sideliner
He will make a great head coach one day
tigerjae
He will make a great head coach one day
tigerjae

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