And even though DeAndre McDaniel is expected to be a preseason favorite for the Thorpe Award in 2010, he prefers team success to individual recognition this fall.
"The championship is basically all I want. I don't have any personal goals right now. Of course, I want to be up for the Thorpe Award, but right now it's the championship," McDaniel told CUTigers.com after practice Wednesday. "If I can get the championship and not the Thorpe, I can be happy about that."
In 2009, he finished with eight interceptions for 182 yards and was tied for third nationally with .57 interceptions a game. Shortly after the season, he decided to put off the NFL for one-more run at Clemson.
"He's a team guy," defensive backs coach Charlie Harbison said. "Any individual on our team that gets an award like that, I like to think that's a team helping get there, plus he's doing his job."
McDaniel also wants to expand his job, trying to improve in press coverage.
"This spring has been good for me. It's been another spring we're I've had to get better with my man-to-man defense," he said. "I feel it's gotten a lot better."
Playing mostly in an off technique under Harbison last season, McDaniel's gotten reps at corner during spring practice.
"Now, he doesn't mind me coming up and using my aggressiveness and jamming the receiver on the line," McDaniel said.
He's also getting a chance to make plays in return game as one of several candidates at punt returner.
"I haven't done it in a while, but I know I've still got it. I've got faith in my hands, as long as I make the catch, I should be pretty good," he said.
Harbison acknowledged McDaniel as one of the leaders in the secondary, but he wants to lead on a scale that's larger than that.
"I want to be a leader for the offense also, not just for the defense," McDaniel said. "I want to be able to go over to those guys and tell them, ‘Keep your head up, let's get this thing.'
"I just want to be a leader on both sides. I know a lot of defensive players look up to me. I just want to have that right over there too."
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