Lebron Daniel, a 6-2, 220 pound defensive prospect out of Glenville HS in Cleveland, Ohio wanted to make a verbal commitment to the Iowa Hawkeyes last night, but had to wait a few hours.
"I was trying to call Coach O'Keefe, but his phone wasn't on," Daniel said. "He called me back, he said they were having their team dinner before the bowl game. We were just talking, he asked me if I wanted to be a Hawkeye, I said, ‘Yeah. That's why I called, I want to be a Hawkeye.'
"We just talked about how they were hoping I'd choose them, they'd been waiting for a long time, things like that.
Currently, Daniel's size seems to indicate he'd be playing as a linebacker, but the coaching staff may have bigger plans for him once he gets on campus.
"They're looking at me playing a d-end/outside linebacker," he said. "They say it depends on the game or the scheme. Sometimes I'll be rushing the passer more, sometimes I'll be dropping more. It's a combination of both."
The hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker is something Iowa experimented with near the end of Chad Greenway's career, and is something the NFL is moving toward more. Jason Taylor of the Miami Dolphins is the frontrunner for defensive player of the year, lining up at defensive end weighing only 255 pounds.
"(The position doesn't really matter to me, I like getting to the QB," Daniel said. "Whatever they see me at, that's where I'm going to play."
When we last spoke to Daniel, he was returning home from his visit to Iowa on December 1st, along with several other recruits from the state of Ohio. Two of those recruits, Diauntae Morrow and Zach Furlong, have since committed to the Hawkeyes. Did Daniel and the other Ohio guys plan it this way?
"We didn't really talk about it, but (Morrow) called me a couple days ago," Daniel said. "We've always been cool buddies, he called just to see what my thoughts were. I told him I had pretty much come up with the decision I was going to call Coach O'Keefe."
Current Hawkeyes Arvell Nelson and Derrick Smith attended Glenville High School, a school known for producing several top Ohio State verbal commitments each year. Unfortunately, an Ohio State offer apparently never materialized for Daniel.
"I was hoping to get one, but there was no telling how long it might be," Daniel said. "They might have offered right before signing day, and I didn't want to wait that long. They haven't offered me a scholarship, so I have to move on."
Daniel also said the opportunity to play against Ohio State, to prove himself, was a big draw of playing in the Big Ten.
Even without the Buckeyes, Daniel has an impressive collection of scholarship offers. He reports written offers from Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Cincinnati, Duke, and Colorado."
Daniel said the approach to the position at Iowa helped make his decision a bit easier.
"I like the defensive line coach because he's not a stickler so much about "be here and doing this." He'll let you go if you have that kind of talent. He'll let you just play football. They like athletic guys. They know I'm a speed guy, I'm a guy that can do pretty much anything."
Daniel also said the way the coaching staff pursued him really helped him realize Iowa was where he wanted to be.
"For me, it's always good to have a lot of interest (from a school)," Daniel said. "That was pretty big for me, just the interest level. A Big Ten school is a Big Ten school. I'm just happy to have a Big Ten scholarship on the table.
"I've got a good chance of playing early. Next year the two defensive ends are going to be seniors. I could redshirt that year, then if I work hard, I could be on the field early."
Daniel says the staff plans to add about 20-25 pounds to his frame during a redshirt freshman year, and turn him loose in the competition to replace 2007 seniors Bryan Mattison and Kenny Iwebema at the defensive end position.