Stanley Daniels: A burden lifted

It's hard to know if Stanley Daniels ever really thought this day would come. Sure, he'd made the toughest decision of his life that fateful first Wednesday in February, but that was six months ago; six months ago to the day. But now that the 6-4, 320-pounder from San Diego is in Seattle playing football for the University of Washington, it's as if he's been given a respite. A respite from a life he never asked for.

"I've been wanting to come up here really bad and get out of my house," Daniels told at the freshman luncheon on Wednesday. "I needed to get away from my situation, there was some bad things going on where I was living. I couldn't wait to get out of there and come to Seattle. It's been hard, but now this is the first day of the rest of my life."

It's hard to really know just how bad Stanley's situation was in San Diego, but he doesn't paint a very rosy picture. "At my house, my mom had my brothers and I in a bad situation," he said. "It was a mistake but she's my mom and I love her. There were some issues in the area I live in, and I had to go out and defend my mother a few times. Sometimes that would make people angry and I'd have to deal with grown men about it. I'm only 17 and all I'm trying to do is defend my mom. I never got into trouble and never messed with gangs, though. I just wanted to do things the right way and I just wanted to get out."

Doing things the 'right way' included going to a solid high school, in this case Marian Catholic. When Daniels knew football could be his ticket out, he played that card to the max. Now he can look back and know he was able to better his lot in life. "When the plane landed in Seattle, half of the burden was lifted," he said. "Then when that first horn blew in the morning on the field, I knew I was a Husky. I wanted it bad."

It must have helped to have a fellow SD native and Washington commit, Mission Bay's Scott White, providing a helping hand when needed. But was White a big part in getting Daniels to Washington over the Nebraska Cornhuskers? Stanley sets the record straight.

"Everyone says that but the truth of the matter is, Coach Myers recruited me to Washington," he said. "He told me what he thought of me as a player and a man, and Coach Neuheisel came down to my house and told me what he wanted to accomplish. We sat down face to face and discussed it."

Then it came down to what Daniels called 'the craziest day of my life'. "When it came down to signing day and I called Nebraska and told them that I wanted to be a Husker, I just couldn't honestly tell myself that I did NOT want to go to Washington," he said. "I then called Coach Frank Solich and told him that I wanted to be a Husky. It's a dream, and that was the craziest day of my life. I had two letters in front of me, so I went to the chapel and prayed. At 10:45 I made my decision and it was a great one. I'm a Husky now."

The only decisions Daniels makes nowadays aren't the life-and-death ones he had to deal with at home. Now he can focus on those mind-racking benders; chicken or fish? Milk or soft drink? Cookies with chocolate chips in them or the ones with the M and M's? The Washington coaches aren't as lucky. They have to decide where to play the talented Daniels, and soon.

When it comes down to it, Stanley has the athleticism and drive to succeed on offense or defense. "I told Coach Neuheisel and Myers that I didn't mind where they play me, I just want to get onto the field and contribute as quickly as possible," he said. "It doesn't matter, it's just a game. And I love to play that game. I'll play anywhere."

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