A closer look at Bama's Rover

As research for an article that will appear in the September edition of <I> ‘BAMA: Inside the Crimson Tide</I>, <I>BamaMag.com</I> sat down last week for an extended talk with Brooks Daniels. <br><br>The magazine story will focus more on Daniels the player and his role on this year's team. But our conversation also touched on other topics.

Daniels is from Jasper, Florida, a town halfway between Jacksonville and Tallahassee, located just miles from the Georgia state line. But Daniels turned down overtures from schools all over the Southeast to sign with the Tide. "I liked the fans and the coaches and the traditions," Daniels said. "There was just so much love around Tuscaloosa. The fans knew you played football. It wasn't like other schools that I visited. There you'd just be with the players. But when I visited Alabama, fans were thanking me for coming here.

"That made me like Alabama, the love for the football program and the great tradition that Coach Bryant built. I thought, ‘Man, you can't beat this.' Plus, we were ranked No. 3 in the nation. I thought we had a chance to win the national championship."

Alabama's second-leading tackler in 2001, Daniels works on his technique during practice.

Daniels mentioning tradition is interesting, because conventional wisdom holds that today's athlete cares nothing for past history. But this is one young man that begs to differ. "You definitely pay attention to tradition," Daniels said. "You have to, because you don't want to go to a program that's just now trying to build something. I wanted to go somewhere with a winning tradition that had won multiple national championships and SEC titles. That's what I wanted. I wanted to go to a school that was great.

"With Alabama, that was enough said. Just look at all the stuff they have done. You don't need to say any more about Alabama. The program speaks for itself."

Of course fans are an important part of that tradition. Tide fans are noted for their support--AND for their demanding nature. But Daniels frankly enjoys interacting with the public. "It can take up time, but you see the young kids, you see the crippled kids, and you just want to give back what they give to you," was how he explained it. "During the summer it'll be hot as I don't know what and fans come out and watch us practice. They sit out there watching us practice, through rain, through anything, they're watching us practice.

"Sure, there are some fans that criticize us, but you've got to give thanks to the ones that do come in and love what you're doing--love everything about Alabama football. They know it up and down. It's just amazing. Young kids can sit down and tell you the whole starting defense. When I first found that out, it was just great."

Even when surrounded by scores of autograph seekers, Daniels doesn't mind one bit. "If it's me, I'll sign everybody's autograph," he said. "It doesn't bother me. I like to give back to the people, because there will come a time when they're not going to want your autograph. Do it while you can."

Tide fans know Daniels for his important role at Rover. In 2001 he totaled more than 100 tackles for Alabama, but he hasn't always played defense. "Along with middle linebacker in high school, I also played quarterback on offense," he related. "I just got the center snap--and if I didn't see anyone open--then I'm running it. Basically I just had the ball in my hands. I was a running quarterback. I threw sometimes, but the majority of the time I ran the ball."

Now that Saleem Rasheed has left for thet NFL, Daniels has assumed a vocal leadership role on the Tide defense.

"Maybe I need to talk to Coach Fran about that; it's time to break out," he said, laughing. "Of course I also returned kicks. My junior year I had eight touchdowns on kick returns, but then they wouldn't kick me the ball. They started kicking the ball away from me out of bounds. Maybe I should talk to Coach Fran about letting me get back there returning punts."

Daniels was joking, of course, but his respect for his head coach is obvious. He explained that he looks to Franchione and position coach Carl Torbush as father figures, always looking for ways to help their players.

Daniels sees the scheduling of Hawaii as a season-ending game, as a perfect example of that attitude. "All the players see it as Coach Fran and Coach Moore (Mal Moore, Athletics Director) taking care of the players. Out of the kindness of their hearts, they worked something out for us to have a good time. We'll have something at the end of the year that had been taken away from us.

"And it's going to be on television, too. You can't beat that. You can't beat going to Hawaii."

Taking their cue from their head coach, Daniels and his teammates are viewing the Hawaii game as a business trip. But they know that there will be fun involved as well. "It's going to be a long, tough trip," he acknowledged. "We might not get eight hours of sleep with the time change, but we'll just have to suffer through it.

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going--all those cliché's.

"Just be sure and pack your bathing suit, too."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Brooks Daniels will be one of the featured stories in next month's edition of ‘BAMA: Inside the Crimson Tide, the definitive publication covering Alabama athletics since 1979.

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