Originally written on Sports-Glory  |  Last updated 11/11/14

Daniel Rodriguez, a 24-year-old United States Army veteran, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and earned a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for Valor has been cleared by the NCAA and will join Clemson's football team.

Rodriguez, a 5-foot-8 wide receiver, will wear No. 83 to begin his college career with Clemson as a walk-on. He will have three years of eligibility after spending a year in community college.

Rodriguez says he chose the Army to deal with the loss of his father, Ray, who died four days after Rodriguez graduated from Brooke Point High in Stafford, VA.

Rodriguez served in the military from 2006-10 and on his second tour, he found himself in the middle of one of the bloodiest fights, the battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan, October of 2009.

Around 400 Taliban combatants overwhelmed about 40 U.S. soldiers at an outpost. Eight Americans were killed. Rodriguez left Kamedesh with shrapnel in his neck and leg, and bullet fragment in his shoulder.

Rodriguez received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal of Valor. He was also promoted to staff sergeant before an honorable discharge in 2010.

Friday will be Rodriguez's first organized football practice since his time at Brooke Point High where he was a three-time letterman as a slot receiver, running back, defensive back and kick returner.

Rodriguez caught the eye of college coaches after he posted the following video below on YouTube showing his daily workouts and talking about his dream to play college football.

Clemson Tigers' coach Dabo Swinney, who is a former walk-on at Alabama, was intrigued by Rodriguez and wanted to give him a chance.

"He is getting the opportunity to follow his dream," the coach said to ESPN. "We are excited to have him join our program. I have no doubt that he will become a great leader for us."

Rodriguez joins a class of former military men that have chosen to pursue their athletic dreams. Receiver Tim Frisby and long snapper Matt Grooms play for South Carolina while Florida State basketball graduate Bernard James now plays for the Dallas Mavericks.

"I'm not this high-scouted athlete expected to change this program," Rodriguez said to ESPN. "I'm just a cog on the wheel that's going to play my role and better the team from an individual standpoint and give insight from what I've been through as a person. If I can help mold some of these guys in the locker room to have the same perspective on life I have, that's a benefit."


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