Working hard

Ask Antaries Daniels about last year and you might just get a sigh. It's tough being "the guy" on a team that isn't very good. You hear your name or your number being yelled out by opposing defenses. You never get your chance to really shine. Things might be different this year with a new coach, some added weight and a desire to show everyone that he is capable.

Antaries Daniels really burst on the scene last summer from Omaha (Nebr.) Northwest. However, those high expectations turned into a down season for him, but some hard work and a change on the Northwest staff have things looking up for him.

"I am running track," Daniels said. "The spring has been going good. We got a new football coach. Damon Benning who played running back at Nebraska is our new coach. Me and him get along really well. We talk a lot."

"I don't remember what my stats were last year. They keyed in on me pretty bad. On kickoff returns, they would rather kick the ball out of bounds than kick it to me.

"On defense, they would have two and three linebackers keying in on me at a time. There were times when we would go to the passing game instead of the run and it wouldn't go so well.

"Coach Benning is putting in a new system for us where I will have a chance to move around a little bit more. Other coaches will have to play a game of chess to try and keep up with me."

Daniels has a lot of potential, but that doesn't mean that he's not a great player now. He knows that he needs to continue to improve, however he has the size and the speed you look for in a running back. He just doesn't have the system.

"People are saying that I am still trying to reach my potential. I am getting stronger and faster. I weight 195-pounds. I still have 4.4-speed and I ran a 6.2 in the 55-meters in our first indoor meet.

"I am reaching my potential. I don't like the fact that my bad season is held against me and my abilities. There was really nothing that I could do. I would line up and people would yell '31! 31! 31!'. I am changing numbers and going to hide a bit."

Even when Daniels is in season, except for football season, you can catch him working out with his trainer. Sometimes, an old friend comes back to train with all of them too.

"On ever Monday and Wednesday I go and work out with Yano Jones and I train out there with some folks. Collins Okafor will come back to town from time to time to train. Ty Kildow works out there too.

"I train out there during basketball and track season. Football is more important to me than all of that. I am really trying to work hard to get ready for this last season."

Daniels had a really good summer camp last year in Lincoln. However, he isn't sure if he's going back this summer or if Nebraska wants him to come back. He thinks that his performance last year was pretty good.

"Yeah I think so, but I am really not sure. I don't know if they will need me to come back. I really did perform pretty well when I was down there as a junior that I might go look around at some other schools.

"I was supposed to make a trip to Iowa a while ago, but I was injured. I got injured at the Millard North game. I wasn't able to make that trip. Wyoming sends me a lot of mail. They are changing their offense.

"I am getting interest from Kansas, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Oregon, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Iowa, Iowa State and there are a lot of other schools keeping tabs on me.

"I think that a lot of schools have some questions about my speed. Coach Benning said that he was talking to some coaches and they want to see me break away. I am trying to let everyone know that I am fast and he's putting together a system to help me with that."

It can't be said enough about how much Daniels would like to play alongside Collins Okafor. Okafor and Daniels worked out together, still do, and Daniels has nothing but the highest respect for Okafor and his abilities.

"I really am a big fan of his. He is like a big brother to me. I really want to see things work out for him. I really would just like to see him get on the field. He's very talented."

There is a chance that even if you don't see Daniels in Lincoln this summer that you will probably find him in the stands in Lincoln for the spring game. He might be there with his new head coach.

"I am going to ask Coach Benning to see if he would go with me. I am probably going to say that we will go together to the spring game. He talks a lot about he's going to help me.

"He tells me how he can really be a big help to me and my development and how he can help me out with schools. He has some plugs into some places. In the end, it's going to be my hard work that gets me there."


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