WHAT TO LIKE
Mike Daniels is a physical defender who likes to rough up receivers before they get into their routes. He relishes press coverage, and uses his size and stature (6-0, 195 lbs.) to impose his will on receivers right from the snap. He's also physical enough to play at one of WVU's safety positions, but his proven pass coverage skills and West Virginia's immediate need for corners will likely have him at one of those two spots when he makes it to WVU.
Daniels has long had West Virginia Mountaineers atop his list, so he is well familiar with the Mountaineer program. WVU knew about him from his high school days at South Dade High in Florida, so he is probably as well acquainted with the Mountaineers and the coaching staff as any newcomer. He's also a self-motivator.
"I spent a lot of time in the weight room and doing one-on-ones during the summer to work on my footwork and my technique," Daniels told Scout.com during the recruiting process. "I also studied a lot of film, mostly just watching myself and knowing what I could improve on so I could be better on the field."
Daniels had a respectable offer list, including Arizona, Purdue, Kansas and Mew Mexico, but ended up not getting scholarship tenders from Auburn, Tennessee and Nebraska, among others who showed interest during the recruiting process. Whether that was simply due to full rosters and commitments at some of those schools is unknown, but those who judge commitments largely on the basis of other offers will find a bit to pick at.
The physical defender will need to pick up the defense quickly if he's to get on the field for West Virginia this fall. And although he does have a redshirt year available, the Mountaineers need more players at corner, so he'll get the chance to show what he can do early on. That puts a lot of pressure on players coming from the juco level, where coverages and assignments are typically not as complex as those in a Division I program – to say nothing of the Big 12, where every defensive back is tested from the first snap of the game.
The key for Daniels, as it often is with jucos looking to play early, is mental toughness. He'll have to deal with the avalanche of new information coming his way when he gets on the practice field, and he knows that he'll be evaluated from the very first snap to see if he can help the Mountaineer secondary as it rebuilds from massive personnel losses. That can often be just as difficult of an adjustment as simply facing better players, so it's a major factor to watch this fall.
In terms of ability, though, Daniels appears ready to compete for time. He tallied 36 tackles, seven interceptions and two pass breakups for the Knights this year, and also had a blocked kick. Those sorts of big plays are just what West Virginia needs to replace in its secondary, and in Daniels it has a player that has made them on every level of competition so far. A junior college All-America selection, he just has to battle through the early days of camp and show his ability, which could end up making him something of a steal in this class.