Josh Perkins's rise to become one of Washington’s crucial pieces was slow at first, but then took off: five catches as a redshirt sophomore to 25 catches in 2014 to 36 catches as a senior.
Darrell Daniels has followed a similar trajectory, minus the benefit of a redshirt year: no catches as a freshman to 11 catches in 2014 and 19 catches last year. Of course he was also battling with Perkins for playing time, so his turns were going to be limited compared to the incumbent.
That’s why all the stars seem to be aligning for Daniels to have a monster 2016 campaign, his last at Montlake.
For starters, if Daniels follows what Perkins did he should be the No. 2 overall pass-catcher for the Huskies this season. Perkins was a distant second, but that was because Jake Browning relied heavily on senior Jaydon Mickens. Mickens caught 22 more passes over the course of 2015 compared to Perkins.
With Mickens gone and no scholarship senior to step up in the receiving corps, the only returning senior pass-catcher is Daniels - so Browning should be targeting Daniels a lot.
Secondly, Daniels really doesn’t have any other tight end breathing down his neck the way he was battling last year with Perkins. Drew Sample is maturing, and other tight ends like David Ajamu, Jeff Lindquist, and Will Dissly are truly X factors. We have no idea if redshirt frosh Mike Neal is ready for the big stage yet. All these questions provide the motivation for moving players like Lindquist and Dissly to tight end.
Third, Daniels has the athleticism and size, like Perkins, to be moved all around as a receiving threat - so Washington Offensive Coordinator Jonathan Smith has all sorts of options when it comes to finding physical mismatches for Daniels along the line of scrimmage.