Maryland was in desperate need of defensive backs, and the Terps added two on Jan. 23 -- from a pair of brothers who are tied together at the hip. Elijah and Elisha Daniels (Cardinal Gibbons/Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), the longtime “package deal,” committed to UMD during their official visit Jan. 23, giving the Terps another cornerback (Elisha) and the class’s first safety (Elijah). The pair are also the fourth Floridians to commit to Maryland in the last few days, joining LaDerrien Wilson (Osceola, Fla.) and Aaron Thompson (Dillard/Forth Lauderdale, Fla.).
“I would like to announce I’m officially committed to the University of Maryland,” the corner Elisha Daniels tweeted out Jan. 23.
“I’m not talking any other officials, I’m 100 percent committed to Maryland,” the safety Elijah Daniels added.
The two brothers have wanted an opportunity to play alongside one another at every level since they first donned a helmet and shoulder pads at six years old. It worked out all the way up through high school, but very few Division I universities sought both twins’ services. Minnesota, however, was willing to give them a shot and subsequently secured a commitment back in June.
But when head coach D.J. Durkin took over at Maryland in December, he promptly extend an offer to both Elijah and Elisha Daniels. The pair immediately chimed in that it was a game-changing verbal, and promptly scheduled a Jan. 22 official visit.
"It’s a very good school in general, and Coach Durkin is a great defensive coach,” Elisha Daniels said. “I saw him at Michigan and Florida, and his defenses and how he developed his players were great. I mean, look at all the players he helped get to the League.
“Coach Durkin is a real cool guy, and I can tell he lives and sleeps football. He’s energetic and passionate, and that’s the type of coach I want to play for. He’s also a real personable guy and a cool guy; I can tell he relates well to his players.
“I liked how he was saying how me and my brother are both his type of player. He loves our physicality, our aggressiveness and how we bring it every play. He thinks we could really fit in well at Maryland and help the defense right away.”
The two remained committed to Minnesota, but when the new Gophers’ staff failed to initiate contact, the brothers reneged on their pledge. They also considered UCF, which extended an offer to both, but the Terps clearly had their eye.
“The offer definitely caught our attention. It’s a great opportunity, a great program, and it’s a blessing to have,” Elijah Daniels said. “When Coach Durkin got the job at Maryland, that caught my eye before he even got in touch with us. I saw what he did up at Michigan and also at Florida. He has a great defensive reputation, so that’s something that sticks with both me and my brother.
“And I could tell just talking to Coach Durkin he’s going to get things done there. He’s going to make some noise in the Big Ten. That guy’s got all kinds of fire.”
Durkin made sure the Danielses knew how much the Terps wanted them too. He promptly placed the two at the top of Maryland’s recruiting board, according to the twins, and then went in-home with both after the January recruiting period opened back up.
“Coach Durkin is just a great, great guy,” Elisha Daniels said of the in-home. “He made a really big impression on us and my parents. He’s making an effort to get to know us personally, and he’s just someone we could see ourselves playing for. I feel like he can really help us develop our games.”
So can defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim. The brothers have been in close contact with him the last months or so as well.
“Coach Aazaar, he’s a really cool guy and I like talking to him. He messages us all the time,” Elijah Daniels said. “He sounds like a good coach and he’s really made an effort to get to know us.”
There certainly is an opportunity for both brothers in College Park, Md. The Terps lack defensive backs, so the two could battle for playing time as soon as next year.
“Just looking at what Maryland has, I can tell they need DBs,” Elisha Daniels said. “And that’s big for me and Elijah – we want a chance to come in, play early and help change a program around. Me and my brother have always been leaders and we’ve always taken on challenges. That’s one of the reasons we [originally] committed to Minnesota. It’s a chance to lead and make a lasting impact. We could do the same thing at Maryland.”
“We can come in and play as freshmen,” Elijah Daniels said. “They have needs in the defensive backfield, and we could come in and help fill those spots.”
The brothers also mentioned Under Armour, the job opportunities in the D.C. area and the program’s Big Ten affiliation as some of the other reasons they were trending towards the Terps.
The official visit itself undoubtedly sold them on the program too, the duo taking to the campus vibe (despite the snow); the rest of the staff; and the players.
“Maryland’s bringing in some impact recruits,” Elijah Daniels said previously. “They’ve got a lot of great players coming in, and we could potentially fit right in.”
Even though they’re from Florida, the Daniels brothers had a built in affinity for the Terps. They actually grew up watching Belle Glade High football in the Muck region, because that’s where their father attended high school. And one of Belle Glade’s most recent stars just happened to be Maryland cornerback Will Likely.
“Will Likely was the star of the team, and me and my brother would watch him like every play. So to now see him doing his thing up at Maryland, that definitely makes [UMD] stand out. That caught our eyes for sure,” Elijah Daniels said.
Said Elisha Daniels: “To see [Likely] up at Maryland on TV, and making plays like he does, that’s really cool for us. Maybe me and Elijah could do the same type of thing there, coming from Florida and making an impact there.”
And now that will become a reality. The brothers Daniels aren’t going to flip again, cancelling an intended Jan. 29 trip to Syracuse. They’re set to sign with Maryland Feb. 3.
“Maryland is a great opportunity,” Elijah Daniels said. “It’s a great vibe up there with Coach Durkin and they’re moving in the right direction.”
The Daniels brothers always intended on attending the same college. These statements from Elijah Daniels from a previous article give some insight into their relationship:
“We’re like Beavis and Butthead, except closer,” laughed the safety Elijah Daniels, who clocks in with a 4.48-second 40-yard dash. “We’re real close and we always have each other’s backs. We’re always competitive and we always push each other, but we love each other and will do anything for each other. If someone has a beef with my brother, I’ve got his back. And I know he’s got my back. We’re inseparable. We do everything together.”
Given that, it’s no surprise the Daniels boys, who have been playing football since kindergarten, also line up in the same defensive backfield. Elijah Daniels is a 5-foot-11, 190-pound smashmouth safety; Elisha Daniels is a 6-0, 185-pound versatile cover-corner.
“We both have slightly different games, but we’re most alike in that we’re physical and like to hit,” Elijah Daniels said. “That’s what we were always taught to do. Our coach told us when we came in that everyone has to pay a toll, and we took that to heart. We’re head busters; that’s what we’ve always done. We feed off each other, for real, and that’s a bad, bad thing for offenses.
“But my brother, he’s more of a versatile defensive back. He can play safety, corner and nickel. He’s got a lot of range, and he’s very aggressive. He makes plays all over the secondary. But I’m more of the head buster; I’m a downhill strong safety that likes to play in the box and deliver the boom. I’m a ball-hawk too, but I love to hit and bring the pain. I remember growing up, I’d hit my brother and he would always be like, ‘You don’t have to hit that hard (laughs).’”
The Daniels’ gridiron prowess attracted numerous looks from Division I college assistants, although their insistence on attending the same school turned some potential suitors away. Even so, the pair ended up with a multitude of scholarship offers from programs throughout the ACC and Big Ten. Elijah and Elisha ended up committing to Minnesota back in June, the Gophers insisting they wanted both Daniels brothers in their program.
“Elisha is the other half of me and we always dreamed of going to the same college together. We worked so hard to make that happen," Elijah Daniels said. “So that’s what we’re going to do. We’ve truly been blessed.”