The first months back were tough on Daniel Rodriguez.
He carried memories of the carnage he had witnessed. He was sullen and withdrawn. He drank a lot.
But the words came back to Rodriguez, a promise he made his friend while they were battling terror and the Taliban in the mountains of northeastern Afghanistan in October 2009.Rodriguez had told Pfc. Kevin Thompson that he would pursue his dream of playing college football if he survived.
Rodriguez made it back.
The promise lives in the form of an orange uniform and unbridled enthusiasm that Rodriguez shows for his new team at Clemson, where he is a 24-year-old walk-on receiver and special teams player for the 11th-ranked Tigers (9-1).
He's one of two FBS players with a Purple Heart, joining Idaho's Corey Sandberg.
He may only be a walk-on, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told The New York Times, but he's a team leader to these 18- to 22-year-olds, some of whom have a sense of entitlement or want to feel sorry for...