Daniels making a seamless transition to Nebraska
The opportunity to play major college football with your little brother is pretty rare and it looked like it was going to be something Darrion and Damion Daniels would not be able to do.
Darrion signed with Oklahoma State in 2015 and Damion signed with Nebraska in 2017. The elder Daniels was settled in as a major contributor for the Cowboys and started his senior season last fall. Then came a ruptured tendon in his left pinky finger the fourth game of the season that changed everything.
The injury required surgery which meant Darrion could still redshirt preserving a year of eligibility. That also meant he could possibly play football with his little brother one last time.
“I kid you not, I literally just took a leap of faith,” Daniels said about his decision to become a graduate transfer to Nebraska. “I even went in and talked to my coaches before I officially made the decision and they gave me their input.
"They all really supported and were like, ‘The opportunity to play with your brother is very rare. Especially at this level on that big stage.’ A lot of them said I would really be dumb if I didn’t take the opportunity. Even though they would miss me they would want me to be happy.”
The Dallas native says his relationship with his little brother is close, but very competitive, which is exactly how they like it to be.
“It’s a sibling rivalry. I can sum it up in a nutshell like that,” Daniels said about his relationship with his brother. “We are very competitive, very competitive. He saw I graduated in three-and-a-half years he was like, ‘I’m graduating in three.’ That’s the kind of relationship we have. We’re always trying to compete. We’re always trying to push each other. Our relationship has always been pretty close.”
Going from being a veteran senior leader to a completely new face could be a difficult transition, but defensive line coach Tony Tuioti says Daniels has had no issues adapting.
“He’s been having a strong camp. It started on Day 1,” Tuioti said about Daniels. “Before I even got here, everybody was talking about Darrion Daniels and the type of impact he was making in the weight room and winter conditioning and all of that stuff. I’m just glad to see it translate onto the field. It hasn’t stopped, and I’m glad it hasn’t stopped because we are going to need that kind of leadership to get to where we want to be.”
Head coach Scott Frost echoed Tuioti’s feeling about Daniels and just how impressive he’s been on and off the field early on.
“I’ll tell you, Darrion’s making plays on the field, but that’s not the most impressive part of Darrion,” Frost said. “It would be really hard for somebody to change teams and come to a new college program and be a leader immediately, but that’s what he’s done. He’s brought a spark to the d-line and I think a sense of accountability to the d-line and to the whole defense. He’s going to be a real asset for us, and I’m not just talking about on the field. He’s going to help us on the field and off.”
Daniels, completely unfazed by his “leap of faith,” says becoming a leader right away at Nebraska is easy as long as you handle your business the right way.
“I don’t see it as a challenge at all,” Daniels said about becoming a leader at Nebraska. “I’m a very verbal person. I speak how I feel quite often. I also have a sense of integrity, so I do what I’m supposed to do at all times. I feel like leading is basically doing the right thing and people will follow you with their own free will. It’s not really much of a challenge for me to come in and be a leader when I’m just doing what I’m supposed to be doing anyways.”