Clemson's Rodriguez wins Courage Award

December, 19, 2012
12/19/12
3:15
PM ET
Clemson receiver Daniel Rodriguez was selected the winner of the 2012 Discover Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award, the organization announced Wednesday.

He will be presented the award and recognized during the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7.

From the release:
Rodriguez joined the Tigers football team after being awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star in Afghanistan. The 24-year-old Rodriguez was wounded Oct. 3, 2009, during a battle near Kamdesh, Afghanistan, while serving in the U.S. Army. Combat Outpost Keating, in a mountainous region near the Pakistan border, was ambushed by nearly 300 Taliban insurgents. Eight Americans were killed; 22 were injured. Rodriguez was shot and wounded in the leg, neck and shoulder.

Once recovered and discharged from the military, Rodriguez kept a promise to his friend, Pfc. Kevin Thompson, who was killed during the initial moments of the attack. Rodriguez had told Thompson if he made it home from Afghanistan, he would find a way to play college football.

After enrolling at Germanna Community College, he began training for football. He sent a video of himself catching passes, spliced with video he’d shot during combat, to four-year schools. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney offered Rodriguez a spot on the team.

Swinney said in a statement: “I am very happy for Daniel. This is a special award and it further acknowledges his accomplishments. His journey to Clemson has been an inspiration to me, our team and many people around the country. It is a story of overcoming adversity and really brought home to everyone on our team the support we have in our military.”

The 5-8, 175-pound Rodriguez played in every game this season, mostly on special teams. He made four tackles and had three catches for 10 yards.

“Wow, this is a great honor,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I want to thank the Discover Orange Bowl and the Football Writers Association. When I think where I was three years ago, this is like a dream. I just wanted to get on the football field, be a part of a team and a university, but this season has been so much more. I want to thank coach Swinney and Clemson University for giving me this opportunity.”

For the seventh straight year, the Football Writers Association of America and the Discover Orange Bowl announced weekly nominees during the season. A blue-ribbon panel of FWAA members chose Rodriguez as the winner.

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