DALLAS (FWAA) – Clemson's Daniel Rodriguez
is the first weekly nominee for the 2012 Discover Orange
Bowl-FWAA Courage Award, to be announced at the end of
the season. Rodriguez, a redshirt freshman receiver from Stafford,
Va., is playing for the Tigers after earning a Purple Heart and
Bronze Star in Afghanistan.
Rodriguez, 24, 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
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
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.
"I was mesmerized by his video," Swinney told The New York Times.
"I'm watching and thinking, 'Holy cow, he's amazing.'"
Rodriguez enlisted in the Army after high school shortly after
the unexpected death of his father, also an Army veteran. He served
from 2006-10, spending 18 months in Iraq and a year in Afghanistan.
He is attending Clemson on the GI Bill.
The 5-8, 175-pounder has played on kickoff coverage in the Tigers'
first four games, and saw action at receiver against Furman and
"You always dream of that second chance to play football again,"
Rodriguez said. "I'm in that position. I have that second opportunity
that so many people have said, 'I wish I could get one more shot.'
Well, now it is my shot. I have that opportunity."
For the seventh straight year, the Football Writers Association
of America and the Discover Orange Bowl will announce a weekly nominee
each Wednesday during the season. A blue-ribbon panel will determine
the winner from all of the nominees. The winner of the Discover
Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award will be announced in December and
be presented with the trophy during the week of the 2013 Discover
BCS National Championship Game.
Courage Award was created by ESPN The Magazine's senior writer Gene
Wojciechowski, also an FWAA member. A select group of writers from
the FWAA vote on the winner each year. The requirements for nomination
include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming
an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living
Previous winners of the FWAA's Courage Award are Michigan State
offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), Rutgers defensive tackle
Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football team
(2009), Tulsa's Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy's Zerbin Singleton
(2007), Clemson's Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football
team (2005), Memphis' Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State's Neil
Parry (2003) and Toledo's William Bratton (2002).
About the Orange Bowl
The Orange Bowl is
a 348-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization
that promotes and serves the South Florida community. The Orange
Bowl Festival features a year-round schedule of events culminating
with the Discover Orange Bowl on January 1, 2013 and the Discover
BCS National Championship on January 7, 2013. Other Orange Bowl
core events include the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic,
Orange Bowl Youth Football Alliance presented by Sports Authority,
Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships, Orange Bowl Sailing
Regatta Series and Orange Bowl Paddle Championships. For more information
on the 2012-13 Orange Bowl Festival and its events, including promotional
and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program, log
on to www.orangebowl.org.
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization
founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,200 men and women who cover college football
for a living. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists,
as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works
to govern areas that include gameday operations, major awards and its annual All-America
team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve
Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-713-6198.
2012 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
• Sept. 26: Daniel Rodriguez, Clemson
• Oct. 3: Angelo Richardson, Arizona State
• Oct. 10: Patience Beard, Arkansas
• Oct. 17: Neiron Ball, Florida
• Oct. 31: Dan Werner, Mississippi
• Nov. 8: Jay Prosch, Auburn
• Nov. 15: Austin Woods, Oklahoma