Alex Daniels Prepares for New Position

Alex Daniels, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, played in 12 games, finishing with 14 tackles (10 solo) and a forced fumble as a true freshman this past season. Daniels joined Steve Davis and Dominic Jones as the only true freshmen to earn a letter. GoldenSports.Net recently caught up with Daniels to learn about his expectations for the season.

Alex Daniels was selected to the SuperPrep Midwest Team after his senior season at Columbus (OH) Brookhaven. He was ranked as the 26th-best player and listed as the 36th-best defensive back in the nation. Daniels made 100 tackles with five sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in leading his team to 2004 state title. He also intercepted three passes, returning two for touchdowns. Daniels was a Super Honor Roll student and National Honor Society member.

How important has football been in your life?

"I just started playing football and once I learned how to play football, the sky was the limit. I had the opportunity to go to college and be the first one in my family to go to college. I think that playing football was a great opportunity. I played basketball too, but everybody wanted to be Michael Jordan. Can't live up to the hype."

The academics are just as important to you, right?

"I've got good grades. I'm cool. I got A's and B's and a couple of C's. My academics is good. I think school is first, especially when it comes to sports, because school you are going to be ineligible or kicked out of school. You just need to take care of your business in school first."
How good can this team be?

"I think that everyone is putting us under the radar. Like we are going to lose to Cal. We're going to do this and we're going to do that. We don't have this. We don't have that. I just think that we are going to have to show everybody. We are going to put up and make everybody shut up. That's our philosophy."

Do you like that underdog role a little bit? People aren't expecting big things.

"Last year, we was underdogs until we beat Purdue. When we beat Purdue, everybody was like ‘Minnesota is for real.' We've got so much negativity coming, like, 'We can't do this or we can't do that. All we can do is run. We don't have no defense.' We've got everything this year. We've got great coaches. We've got the offense coming back. We might have lost some fans, but we can reload. We can rebuild. We don't have to rebuild no more, we can reload now. People just see us as ‘They're not going to be ready to play in the Big Ten. They're going to finish seventh.' Michigan was supposed to be the best team. We beat them and no one gave us credit for that. I just think when we line up and play, it's 11 against 11 and anything can happen."

How about your expectations for this season? You played a decent amount as a freshman, but the expectations are much bigger for you this season?

"My expectations are that the sky is the limit this year. I think that we have the chemistry and the base from every position. We have a lot of people competiting, so there is going to be a lot of competition in practice. Everybody wants to play, so there is a lot of competition in practice and the best player will play and that is the only way we're going to find out who the best 11 is when we go to practice. When we line up on the 31st against Kent State, you are going to see the best 11 players that Minnesota has to offer on offense and team and special teams. "

The Kent State game, which will be held in Canton, is a couple of hours from your home in Columbus. Will it be nice to play in your homestate?

"It's going to be cool, because all my family is coming up here. I've got at least 30 people trying to come to the game. That's not even counting my best friend, Keith Massey's family and D.J.'s (Dominic Jones) family. There is going to be a lot of support there. A lot of Ohio people who know who I am and have seen play in the state championship game and they want to see how I am doing. They want to come to the game and give me some support. I think it is going to be fine. The best one of all is going to be when we go to the "Horseshoe." That will be the best one. That will be one of the greatest feelings that I have ever had because going in as a recruit for Ohio State and you walk into the stadium, you feel like I can't wait to play here and now I'll have the opportunity to play there."

How about the defensive schemes this year, especially with a new linebacker coach coming in? How has that been learning a kind of a new system?

"It's the same system, but different coach. He just instilled hard work and dedication and buying into the program. That is all Coach Criner does. But for right now, I've been switched from linebacker to tailback from the head man, so I am with the running backs right now since they need someone to pound the middle a little bit. A power back. I'm just trying to help out the team anyway possible."

Is that something you are looking forward to, dishing out some punishment?

"I'm looking forward to dishing out some punishment. I think that we have one of the best lines in the nation, so it is going to be fun running behind all them big boys."

You had some good running backs at Columbus Brookhaven. How much did you really run the ball?

I ran a lot. I had like 700 yards and 10 touchdowns my senior year. I ran the ball a lot my junior and sophomore year at my other school. It is going to be natural for me. It is going to be a natural transition."

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