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“It’s been a long process,” he said. “When you’re out so long, you lose a lot of skills that you just can’t practice with an injury like that.”

One thing he didn’t lose was the respect of his teammates. He was voted a team captain during training camp, despite not having played since his sophomore year.
“That surprised me a little bit because I wasn’t a captain before,” he said. “I took it as an honor that my teammates bestowed on me and tried to do the best I could. I think they saw just how much playing football for Army meant to me.”

Army senior quarterback Max Jenkins said he is not sure whether anyone else could have endured the same ordeal and come out as well as Rodriguez. His strength and commitment, not to mention his persistence and perseverance, have inspired the entire team. Electing him captain was only natural.

“It might have been surprising to him, but not to us,” Jenkins said. “It’s a testament to his character that he missed the entire season and teammates still felt like he was a leader. We all knew coming into it that he was going to be voted one of the captains.”

That might have been the lone certainty surrounding his return to West Point and the Army football team.