Chris Daniels is no stranger to Michigan. The former Muskegon (Mich.) Mona Shores star camped in Ann Arbor early in his high school career, visited during the summer... and before recruiting picked up for him after his move to Texas, considered himself a Wolverine fan. Despite all of that familiarity he still came away from his official visit this weekend extremely impressed.
“The visit to Michigan was awesome,” said Daniels.
“It was everything I expected to be honestly. The Big House speaks for itself.”
Turns out so did a defense that got back to its stifling ways in the Wolverines’ 49-16 thrashing of Rutgers.
Said Daniels, “I feel like with the defensive line what stood out to me the most was how grimy they get and how explosive they are. I feel like there’s a goon mindset that Coach (Greg) Mattison put in them.”
That, though, is just part of he found appealing about the Maize & Blue. He also gained a better appreciation for what it would be like to play for a position coach for whom he has already developed a great deal of respect.
“Our relationship (has been building) I’d say for about two years now, and I have to say he is a man of his word,” Daniels said regarding Mattison. “He told me he was going to give me an offer if he came back and my grades were better. My grades got better, he was a man of his word, and he offered. This weekend it just felt like he was already my coach with the way he was talking and everything… telling me what he was going to do with me.”
As beneficial as Mattison’s presence is to Michigan’s cause, what may have aided the Wolverines even more this weekend were his interactions with numerous others within the program.
“I could tell it’s like family there” said Daniels. “Coach Mattison’s wife… I could tell should could be a far-away mom for me.”
“The players there were just how I pictured them. They said they could see me playing with them. (Bryan Mone) was my host. We went out to dinner and it was pretty cool.”
“(Mattison’s) assistant D-line coach (Will Carr) played in the NFL and was kind of comparing himself to me how he came out of Dallas and came all the way to Michigan. He was pretty cool.”
“(D.J. Durkin) was in film (study) and he really impressed me with how he was trying to motivate them and push them. I was just really impressed.”
Then when attention turned away from football Daniels found himself equally captivated. One interaction was particularly memorable.
“I got to talk to (history professor) Tyran Steward,” Daniels recalled. “He is from Louisiana and he was telling how Michigan is different from everybody else because Michigan is not only good at football… it’s good academically as well.”
That message definitely resonated with Daniels’ mother who had but one minor complaint the entire weekend.
“Mom said it was a little cold, but she liked it just as much as I did,” he said.
And to be clear the talented youngster insists weather will not factor into his recruitment.
“The thing is if God blesses me with going to the league, I’ll have to play in cold weather regardless,” said Daniels. “Even at the next level in college (if a warm weather school is the choice) I’ll have to play in cold weather when we travel. So I don’t think that should hinder anybody from making a decision.”
That’s definitely music to the ears of those within Schembechler Hall. Jim Harbaugh & company have their sights set on landing an epic defensive line class and they hope Daniels will be one of the key components.
“They want me, Rashan Gary, Jordan Elliott, and (Levi Onwuzurike),” Daniels said. “They’re hoping that we all make a decision, and then that would be it.”
“The reason it matters to me is I don’t want to be the only one out there teams are scouting and I’m the only one that’s going to get double-teamed on the d-line. I want to be able to go out there with people just as good as me or better than me that I can fight with.”
The aforementioned class would live up to that criteria, but Daniels doesn’t yet have a feel for how close it is to being a reality. He only knows one of the would-be class members and he still hasn’t figured his own recruitment out yet.
“Me and Elliott talk on the phone and me and him (direct message),” Daniels stated. “I met him at a couple of camps this summer so we talk.”
“I can’t say where (Michigan is) on my list yet because I haven’t taken my other official visits. I go to (Oklahoma) on the 21st, and after that and maybe one other official visit I’ll be able to make my decision.”
After initially planning to commit to a school on his birthday (December 18th), Daniels reiterated that he’ll make an announcement sooner than that).
“I just have OU set up for November 21st. I think that’s probably going to be it,” he said.
“(A decision will come) at the beginning of December most likely.”