Trojan commit transforming

Jacob Daniel hasn't had much run this season recovering from ACL surgery and other nagging injuries. But despite not playing much in 2014, Daniel looks like he may have a great start to 2015 at the Army All-American Bowl.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Defensive tackle Jacob Daniel has transformed himself as a player in recent months.

Normally, injuries hamper a player's ability to train and condition properly. This was no different with Daniel, who had to rehab from a torn ACL and then a leg hyper-extension with just two games under his belt as a senior.

But while Daniel gained weight, his game took on a new dimension. Now 320-pounds, Daniel has been step for step with the best defensive linemen at the Army All-American Bowl playing defensive tackle and nose guard.

“That’s just the expectation I have for myself,” said Daniel. “I’ve been training at this place called the Body Shop up in Fresno, and my guy Art has taken good care of me.

“I’ve been just building my body up and put my mind into this. This is  something I want so I’ve been trying to get better. I feel like I give myself more opportunities being bigger.

“That’s what I want to do - I want to play everywhere. USC actually wants me to play the four-technique where Leonard (Williams) played, so I might have to lose some weight for that. But I really want to be versatile so I can play any spot.”

Replacing Leonard Williams next season will be a tall task for USC regardless of who the Trojans recruit. And while replacing Williams will be a focus, finding a player USC never really had could be just as important.

Since switching to a 3-4 defense, USC has never had a true plus-300-pound plus nose guard who could control the middle of the line of scrimmage. Successful 3-4 defenses often come with a Terrence Cody, Louis Nix or John Jenkins playing over center.

All three played for their respective college teams at 350-pounds.

“I just want to be in shape next fall,” said Daniel. “If that’s at 300 or where I am right now, I just want to be in the best shape possible.

“Thing is, I feel great right now. This is the best I’ve felt in a long time with all of these nagging injuries. I’m just grateful to be here in general.”

As a long time USC pledge, Daniel has gone from being a recruit to recruiting for the Trojans.

“I’m working on Ykili Ross right now,” said Daniel. “I think he’s close, really close. I’m also talking to Porter Gustin and Osa Masina, although I don’t think those guys are announcing at the game.

“I just tell them USC is the place to be. It’s USC with sunny 70-degree weather and sunny skies. It’s just a nice place to live. I tell them it’s a great education, there’s plenty of room on the roster and USC has a great staff.

“Coach Sark, Coach (Justin) Wilcox, Coach (Clay) Helton… all of the coaches are good guys to play for and be around.”

Daniel will join the other Trojan commits in visiting USC Jan. 16. Already committed, Daniel has little to worry about between now and signing day.

“I’m just looking to hang out more with the coaches,” said Daniel. “Hopefully I can meet up with the uncommitted guys and be in their ear a bit. It should be a good time.”

And Daniel is a good time all to himself. Not many defensive tackles can pull off wearing No. 6.

“Drake has a song called '6 God,' and I was listening to that,” Daniel said with a smile. “I had to go with No. 6, just one time. I may never get the chance again.”


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