Jacob Daniel isn't like other kids growing up in California. Brush aside for the moment that he's a hulking 6-foot-4, 300 pounds. Instead of rooting for UCLA, USC, California or even nearby Fresno State, he grew up rooting for Ohio State.
Daniel has no connections – familial or otherwise – to the Buckeyes. That was just the team he watched growing up. After receiving an offer from the Golden Bears back in April, though, the Sept. 15 match-up between the two historic programs will take on a whole new meaning, particularly after an eye-opening visit to Berkeley this past Friday.
"I'll probably be rooting for Cal," Daniel laughs.
The four-star defensive tackle – ranked No. 5 at his position in the 2015 class – has become quite taken with the Bears since they offered, particularly defensive tackles coach Barry Sacks and his unique brand of motivation and humor.
"It was cool to finally go there and see practice," Daniel says. "They were very up-tempo and high-paced. I really enjoy watching coach Sacks coach. He's hilarious. I just liked the enthusiasm that he has. You can really tell that he loves his job, and that he really takes care of his guys."
Sacks paid Daniel quite a compliment, as well, likening him to Biggie. What Daniel didn't know until afterwards, though, was that Biggie is the team's affectionate nickname for Deandre Coleman, who's been the object of a steady stream of visits from NFL scouts throughout fall camp.
"I didn't know [Biggie] was DeAndre Coleman," Daniel sheepishly admits. "I found out later that that was him. That was a big compliment."
It's not hard to see the comparison. Daniel has a broad frame, is naturally strong, has a quick first step and uses his hands very well. Like Coleman, he's a wide-body who will likely requite double teams up front. On Friday, he got to see Coleman and the rest of the line in action.
"It was really cool to see. I like the 4-3 defense, and I can envision myself playing in it. It was pretty cool," says Daniel, who is being recruited as a three-technique defensive tackle by the Bears.
Daniel and some of his Clovis North teammates got a tour of the facilities before practice, and while they didn't tour the rest of campus, Daniel found time to pick up a bright gold Cal t-shirt on his first trip to Berkeley.
"It was just really nice, the quality of everything that they have over there," Daniel said of the Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance. "It's a nice university. The football facilities were great, and it was cool having it all be under the stadium. It was really nice, and I'm glad I got to see it."
His favorite part, though, was watching the sheer speed of practice.
"That was, wow," Daniel says. "Just seeing how high-tempo the next level is, really kind of shocked me, seeing that."
The speed of practice, in fact, turned a bit of a switch in Daniel's mind.
"It put everything in perspective," Daniel says. "It showed me what's at stake, just going in there and seeing everything that they have and what they do."
While Daniel is still a ways away from making a decision – and with 16 scholarship offers already, he'll certainly have his pick – he does have at least some idea of what he'll be looking for when the time comes.
"It's just going to be the school that gives me the best opportunity to succeed with football and without football, where I can get the best education, as well as football," Daniel says.
What makes Cal stand out from the rest?
"It's a great academic institution," says Daniel, who has a 3.2 GPA and enjoys History. "I really like the position coach, I really like the whole coaching staff, and it's close to home. It's not too far."
Daniel has offers from as far away as Hawaii and, yes, Ohio State, and while being close to home would be a "bonus," in the Bears' favor, it won't be the deciding factor, he says.
RECRUIT REACTION: Daniel Gets Sacks'd
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