It was a real battle on the recruiting trail for Oklahoma to land junior college offensive guard Jamal Danley for the 2015 class.
It’s simply not that easy for a school, even one as rich in tradition like OU, to be able to sign a prospect from the state of Mississippi when both Ole Miss and Mississippi State are incredibly interested.
The Sooners did just that so perhaps the expectations were too high for Danley last season, trying to make that transition from junior to college to the Big 12.
“It was about what I expected,” Danley said. “Things were at a much faster pace. I struggled at first. I started to pick it up toward the middle of the season.”
Danley saw action in OU’s non-conference games but never appeared the rest of the way. Even in blowout wins at Kansas, at Kansas State and vs. Iowa State, Danley was never in there.
Had he fallen that far off to where he couldn’t get some reps in the fourth quarter? No, it wasn’t attitude or work ethic. Turns out Danley had another issue holding him back.
“I had two concussions this past year,” Danley said. “The first one the week before West Virginia. I came back during the bowl season and then had another one during the bowl practices and shut it down from there.”
Danley said it was a struggle for him to sit out like that because it’s something he’s never had to do before. It was 100 percent necessary, and Danley said it took him a long time to stop feeling the effects of the concussion.
He said by late-January he finally started to feel like himself again and was ready to go to work. With both offensive guard spots open for the taking, Danley feels like he’s better prepared this time around.
“I know a lot more mentally,” Danley said. “Learning from Coach B (Bill Bedenbaugh). Still working on technique. Working on my technique every day. He teaches us so much stuff every day.”
As of right now, Danley is positioning himself as the one to watch at right guard and is excited with how the first week of spring practice went. He knows he’s made the first step, but he can’t slow down now.
“Yes, can’t get complacent,” Danley said. “You know somebody behind you is working just as hard. You can’t ever let up.”