Armed Forces Merit Award winners Rodriguez, Boyer in Dallas for championship game

Armed Forces Merit Award recipient headlines FWAA breakfast

DALLAS — With the collegiate football season concluding here Monday with the College Football Playoff’s National Championship game in nearby Arlington at AT&T Stadium, one of the final awards of the 2014 will be presented Tuesday to 27-year old Army veteran who played the past three seasons at Clemson University

Daniel Rodriguez will receive the 2014 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America at the writer’s group annual breakfast Tuesday (January 13) in the Landmark Ballroom at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel.  The 8 a.m. breakfast will be followed by the press conference with the winning coach and top players from Monday’s title game featuring the University of Oregon and The Ohio State University.

Brant Ringler, the executive director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, and Kirk Bohls, the president of the FWAA, will present the award to Rodriguez, who was named the third recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award this past November on Veteran’s Day.

Selected by a seven-person committee made up of representatives from the FWAA and the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, Nate Boyer of the University of Texas and Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas were the first two recipients of the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA.  Like Rodriguez, Boyer and McCoy were Army veterans before playing at Texas and North Texas.

Boyer, who will also be present the FWAA breakfast, competed three seasons as the long snapper for the Longhorns and received the Armed Forces Merit Award in December 2012 at the annual Texas post-season banquet in Austin.  McCoy was presented the 2013 award at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl media conference in Fort Worth prior to the completion of his fourth season as a starting defensive lineman for the Mean Green.

Both Rodriguez and Boyer participated this past weekend at the 2015 Medal of Honor Bowl as members of the “National” team the second annual post-season all-star game at Johnson Hagood Stadium on the campus of The Citadel in Charleston, S. C.  The “National” team, coached by former Dallas Cowboys leader Chan Gailey (1998 and 1999, 18-14 record), won the game 26-14 as Rodriguez caught a pass (4 yards) and returned a kickoff off (12 yards).

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group with a military background and/or involvement that has an impact within the realm of college football.”

Both Rodriguez and Boyer completed their collegiate careers last month in post-season games.  Boyer was a long snapper for the University of Texas in the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl in Houston against Arkansas while Rodriguez was a wide receiver and special team performer for Clemson University in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando against Oklahoma.

Attending college on the GI Bill, Rodriguez was offered a spot on the 2012 Clemson team as a walk-on after Coach Dabo Swinney saw a video about the former U.S. Army Sergeant, a recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device for his heroism at Kamdesh.

Since starting his Clemson career in 2012, Rodriguez played in 39-straight games for the Tigers as the school has recorded a 32-7 record with bowl wins over LSU (Peach), Ohio State (Orange) and Oklahoma (Russell Athletic).  He caught 11 passes during his career with one touchdown in a 2013 Tiger win over The Citadel on Military Appreciation Day.

Rodriguez, who graduated last month from Clemson with a degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, was the 2012 recipient of the Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage and USAA Athletic Inspiration Awards.  He was also an ESPY finalist for the Jim Valvano Perseverance Award in 2012.

While serving in the Army (2006-2010), Rodriguez spent approximately 18 months in Iraq and one year in Afghanistan.  He was involved in Battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan (October 3, 2009) when 300 Taliban insurgents battled with 38 U.S. troops (eight Americans lost their lives and 22 were injured, including Rodriguez).

Rodriguez’ story has been detailed in a book “Rise: An Epic Story of a Soldier, His Dream, and a Promise Kept,” which he co-wrote with New York Times best-selling author Joe Layden.  Sony’s TriStar Productions has also secured the rights to make a movie based on the book that was released in October 2014.

Interview opportunity: Both Daniel Rodriguez of Clemson University and Nate Boyer of the University of Texas will be arriving Sunday afternoon in Dallas to attend Monday CFP national title game. Both players participated in the Medal of Honor game in Charleston, S.C., Saturday. To arrange an interview contact Tim Simmons, Armed Forces Merit Award coordinator, 720/244-6580,