A long-time dream for Daniel Rodriguez became a reality on Saturday night.
The former Clemson walk-on returned a kickoff 23 yards, fielded a punt and caught a screen pass from rookie quarterback Sean Mannion.
"It was crazy," Rodriguez said, via the team website. "It helped being able to play at a big-time university and transition to a fan base like this. And it was good getting the heckling on a punt return and in kickoff having the fans behind you. So it was good. But it was definitely surreal just being able to compete up here."
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Out of high school, Rodriguez enlisted in the Army and was deployed for 15 months in Iraq and later 12 months in Afghanistan. He was given a Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device for his actions while fighting in the Battle of Kamdesh.
Following his discharge, he wanted to fulfill a promise to a friend that was killed in combat and play collegiate football. He walked on to the Clemson football team, but didn't want his dream to stop there.
"As a kid, I used to sneak downstairs and watch Monday Night Football, and I was always jumping over the couch for that game-winning touchdown," Rodriguez said, via the team website. "I've always wanted to be in the NFL, and every time I saw it in college, I always told myself that I can play at that level."
Rodriguez went undrafted, but the Rams invited him to try out.
And he hasn't flinched now that he's been granted an opportunity.