User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto Racing
Horses
Boxing/MMA
More
Betting Tools

 
Older players bring real-life experiences to ACC

New Sportsbook.ag customers: Make your 1st bet, get your 2nd bet free, 100%, winnings paid in cash.
Join Now

Already have an account? Click here to view new Exclusive Rewards!

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Older players who have taken different routes to college football have become mentors in Atlantic Coast Conference locker rooms that are filled with teenagers who have known only football.

Advertisement
The value of players like Clemson's Daniel Rodriguez or North Carolina's Sylvester Williams is about more than what they do on the field.

They're the kind of players coaches want for their maturity and leadership regardless of whether they start every game or play sparingly.

Rodriguez served in Iraq and Afghanistan before walking on for the Tigers. Williams worked a factory job after graduation before deciding to give college football a try and becoming a starter for the Tar Heels.

``They understand the real-life experiences,'' North Carolina State coach Tom O'Brien said. ``Some of these guys right out of high school have no clue about what's out there or what's waiting for them if they don't get their degree or do what they're supposed to do. You have somebody that can say, `Hey, listen, you don't know how lucky you have it being here.'''

O'Brien has one in reserve defensive end McKay Frandsen, a married 24-year-old who went on a 2-year Mormon mission to Alaska before walking on at BYU then going to junior college to earn his way to N.C. State.

Wake Forest's Alex Kinal, a 22-year-old redshirt freshman, spent three years working a construction job in his native Australia before getting a shot to play for the Demon Deacons. He's now their starting punter.

At Florida State, there's offensive lineman Menelik Watson. The 23-year-old junior graduated from high school in England in 2006, played basketball in Spain and played a year of basketball at Marist. But with his 6-foot-7 frame, he grew interested in football, played at Saddleback College (Calif.) and transferred to be a starting lineman for the Seminoles.

Boston College reserve quarterback Dave Shinskie, 28, spent seven seasons playing minor-league baseball. He started as a 25-year-old freshman and led the Eagles to eight wins, but lost his job the following year to current starter Chase Rettig.

``That probably wouldn't sit well with a lot of people, but Dave is a great teammate and a great asset to our program,'' BC coach Frank Spaziani said. ``We're very fortunate that he contributed to those wins and he's still helping to contribute in a different way. ... I attribute that to some of his maturity and what he's been through.''

Rodriguez, 24, spent 18 months in Iraq and a year in Afghanistan, where he was shot in the shoulder and wounded by shrapnel in a battle in October 2009.

Rodriguez, who earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, had promised a friend who was killed in the attack that he would find a way to play college football if he made it home. He enrolled in a community college, then filmed his workout regimen in a video posted on YouTube that generated inquiries from about 50 schools - including Clemson.

``I wasn't, obviously, brought here on my five-star capabilities,'' Rodriguez said. ``But what I've been through as a man and what I can relate and pass to these guys that are younger than I, having my experience and the hardships I've gone through and overcome, it's definitely something that the guys look up to me for.''

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Rodriguez, who has one catch and has played primarily on special teams for the reigning ACC champions, is ``inspirational.''

``He's been a sergeant of 20 or 40 men in real life and now he's in the locker room with a bunch of 18- to 22-year-old guys who don't really have life figured out yet,'' Swinney said.

At North Carolina, Williams said he struggled in high school and did enough to graduate with his class. He then worked in a factory making radiator parts for large trucks before deciding it wasn't for him and that he would try to play football.

There weren't many options - he had played only one year of high school football - and he ended up walking on at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College armed only with his work ethic and the belief that ``there was something more out there for me in life than there was at that factory.''

He thrived, became an all-conference pick and ended up at North Carolina as a starting defensive tackle with a team-high five sacks.

Kareem Martin, one of Williams' line mates, said watching Williams has taught him a clear lesson: ``You don't want to lose this opportunity.''

``I just kind of tell guys, a lot of guys got here, it was easy for them to get here because they went to the big-time high schools,'' Williams said. ``... Everybody's not going to play in the NFL, just like not everybody's going to play Division I. But you're able to get a free education from the University of North Carolina. Just take advantage of it.''

Williams, who turns 24 next month, even recently pulled the UNC walk-ons aside, telling them he had been in their shoes and they could set themselves apart by working hard every day.

First-year coach Larry Fedora hopes it's a message that sticks with them beyond college.

``I've never been on a team where everybody has the same background, either economically or socially or anything,'' Fedora said. ``And so that's the great thing about being part of a team or a football family: learning from others, learning from the mistakes of others, learning from the positive things of others. ... That's what the real world is all about.''

---

AP Sports Writers Joedy McCreary in Chapel Hill and Pete Iacobelli in Columbia, S.C., and Associated Press writer Brent Kallestad in Tallahassee, Fla., contributed to this report.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
HEADLINES
Lawrence: 2014 Pac-12 Preview
Edwards: Pressing Mississippi State
Blankenship: Fade Alert - Ohio State
Edwards: Top 20 QB Changes
Fitzgerald: Union push unified Wildcats
Cat Conti earns her stripes as official
UGA's Bellamy faces DUI, speeding charges
Paterno feared wrongly accusing Sandusky
TCU's Fields surrenders to warrant
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NCAAFB College Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
VegasInsider.com Gold Membership
2013 CFB SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Joe Williams + 1921
Joe Nelson + 1446
Bruce Marshall + 1350
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
No Games Last Week  
   
   
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Joe Nelson 60 %
Doc's Sports 57 %
Joe Williams 57 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Joe Williams + 1312
Brian Edwards + 580
James Manos + 443
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Joe Williams + 1283
Jimmy Boyd + 966
James Manos + 756
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Mike Rose + 1100
Doc's Sports + 1090
Joe Nelson + 940
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!