A sigh of relief

Very rarely does good news come from an injury that keeps a football player out of action, but that was the case last week when Army All-American defensive tackle Jacob Daniel left the doctor's office.

Last week, Clovis four-star defensive tackle Jacob Daniel received good news after an injury.

Coming off an ACL tear which abruptly ended his junior season, Daniel went down in only his second game back a senior. The immediate thought by everyone who saw Daniel lying on the ground was that he would be set back another year with another knee injury.

“I think that was everybody's reaction just because of the way that it happened,” said Daniel. “It happened in pursuit of a ball carrier. I really rather not go into details, but that’s when it happened.

“It wasn’t actually the same leg I injured my knee.”

Daniel left the game and headed straight for the training table where doctors didn’t want to speculate on his injury until performing an MRI the following Monday.

“Yeah, I was pretty optimistic about it,” said Daniel. “I said, ‘Whatever happens, it is what it is and I’m just going to have to come back better than ever.’”

As it turned out, Daniel was diagnosed with a hyperextension of his knee and not a ligament tear.

“It was a big sigh of relief,” admitted Daniel. “It was a lot of relief.”

Daniel immediately called his future defensive line coach, Chris Wilson Monday afternoon to share the good news.

“The coaches were just encouraging me,” said Daniel. “They were saying it was going to be alright and it was alright. I think it was a sigh of relief for everybody in my support system.

“But I knew that USC were committed to me just as much as I was committed to them. I didn’t expect anything else, anything less than what happened.”

However, after that scare, Daniel isn’t rushing his return to the football field.

“The doctors said iI’ll be out two weeks, but I’m going to take my time,” said Daniel. “I’ll come back as soon as I can.”

Having been away from football for a year, his brief return to the field did leave an impression.

“I was really out of shape,” laughed Daniel. “I was getting gassed after every play. That first game was a real confidence builder for me though.

“That was probably the best I’ve ever played, just rushing the passer and everything. I felt better, I felt stronger. I felt a lot stronger than I was. I think I ended up having 2.5 sacks that first game and then I went out pretty early the next game.

“But I’ll be back this year.”

As Daniel works on returning to the football field his senior year, he also looks forward to what his freshman year at USC will be like.

His opinion of the 6-3 Trojans echoes that of many other recruits.

“I see a lot of growth in the team,” said Daniel. “It’s a young team. It’s their first year in the system too, so I can see how they have some type of growing pains.

“I still think they’re a really good team and the games they have lost have been tough and really close games. The Pac-12 is a great conference and every day isn’t a guaranteed game especially on the road, especially against Utah. Utah is a good team.”

With USC dressing about 50 recruited scholarship players each game, the defensive line depth for the Trojans is brittle thin. So regardless of his performance this season at Clovis North, Daniel knows there’s a good chance he will play next season for USC.

“The biggest thing the coaches have told me is to come in ready to compete for a spot,” said Daniel. “They didn’t say I was guaranteed a spot, but they said I’ll definitely have my chance to earn one.”

What spot Daniel will be playing for remains to be seen. While he is playing defensive end this season for Clovis North, he played nose guard as a junior. At 6-foot-4, 310-pounds, his value is his versatility.

“I moved me back outside in the end this year,” said Daniel. “They didn’t really have anybody in there who could take up a double team last year, so that was just my job, to take up the double team and then have my linebackers come over.

“But one thing with me outside, later on in the season, I started to make more plays. I like doing that. I don’t like two-gapping even though I would say it’s one of my strengths. I just like playing end more. Really, I’ll play wherever the coaches need me.”

Daniel is also one of the more gregarious commitments USC has. Making friends along the recruiting trail, there is one four-star recruit he has become particularly close with.

Porter Gustin,” said Daniel. “I think we’re going to get him to be completely honest with you. “We met at Stanford at the junior day a little while back.

“He came to the USC camp over summer and I know he’s going to be at the Notre Dame game, so I’m probably going to try and make it and be in his ear the entire time during that game. Hopefully I can make it down to that one.”

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