I've never met Daniel Rodriguez, but just from watching a few minutes of his interviews and learning about what he has gone through to get to Clemson, you have to be impressed with him.
To be honest, members of our military always have had my respect and admiration. My father retired from the Air Force after 22 years in 1972, and my mother and brother served in the Air Force, as well.
So there is a built-in family feeling of respect for anyone who serves. My dad, mom and brother served so I didn't have to and was able to chase my silly little dream of being a sports writer. That has worked out so far, and I have my dad, mom and brother to thank for that.
And people like Daniel Rodriguez.
Who knows how good a player Rodriguez will be for the Tigers and what he will contribute to the team on the field. It has been a few years since he has played, and the Clemson wide receiving group is absolutely loaded.
My bet is he will find a way to contribute, whether it's on special teams or just in practice. He was a good high school player, and that will come back to him as he works through the preseason to get ready for the season.
He has overcome too much and worked too hard to get to this point to coast or take it easy and not contribute. In short, Rodriguez will find ways to help the team win games.
But that's not really the point.
Even if Rodriguez doesn't make a catch or a tackle this season, he will help this team. Even though he is new to the program, Rodriguez will be someone his teammates can look up to, and he definitely will be a leader for them.
Think about it for a second. If there is a player at practice who is not giving his best or not going all out, it will be hard for that to pass … especially with someone who has gone through what Rodriguez has endured out on that same field.
Rodriguez's story is well-known now, and it will push his teammates to keep working and not let up when things get hard. His experiences make things like being tired or a little banged up seem much easier to overcome, and that work ethic should help drive this team.
His passion for the game and being a talented player is easy to see (it's very similar to head coach Dabo Swinney), and that will carry over to his teammates. And that love of the game will be a big plus moving forward.
Not that this group has been lacking in drive or determination. With a young team last year, Clemson overcame its own adversity, including some injuries and shaky play at the end of the season, to win the ACC title.
This seems to be a hard-working group that is focused on doing things the right way.
Adding Rodriguez to the mix will take that to another level.
Daniel Shirley is the sports editor of the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph and co-host of The Morning Show on FoxSports 1670 AM.
Rodriguez will contribute
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