Daniels Needn't Look Far For Inspiration

In another one of our fresh interviews, we talked to fourth-round pick Mike Daniels of Iowa. A couple of verses from Proverbs help keep the likable and engaging Daniels humble, not that he needs the help after being overlooked after a standout high school career.

If Mike Daniels needs a reminder, he need only look to his right forearm.

There, etched permanently into his skin, is a tattoo quoting Proverbs 11:2-3.

When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom. The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.

"That basically means to stay humble," Daniels told Packer Report on Monday night. "The interesting thing about humility is when you lose it, that's when you ultimately self-destruct."

It's not like Daniels needs a frequent reminder. Highland Regional High School in Blackwood, N.J., isn't a football powerhouse. And even if it were, his 6-foot-1 frame wouldn't have made him stand out from the crowd.

So, Daniels took matters into his own hands. He sent highlight videos to a bunch of schools. One of those tapes landed on the desk of Iowa's Kirk Ferentz, who watched it after the 2006 Outback Bowl.

"Iowa, they just so happened to be the only one that liked it," Daniels said. "I did have an offer from Villanova but they had pulled back from the offer, and Coach Ferentz called me to say wanted to offer me a full ride. So, I took a visit and accepted the offer."

It took a coach with some imagination to envision what Daniels — who rushed for 2,203 yards as a running back and had 27 sacks as a defensive lineman during his prep career — could become.

"We didn't know," Ferentz told Packer Report. "We project a little bit. We don't get a lot of first-round draft picks, to put it in professional terms."

Daniels, who wrestled at 215 pounds during his senior year of high school, lived in the weight room under the supervision of acclaimed strength coach Chris Doyle during his redshirt season. He toiled on the practice field against the likes of Bryan Bulaga, Riley Reiff and Adam Gettis. The chip on his shoulder, the "resentment" for being overlooked, fueled his every step.

"Exactly. A lot of it, too," Daniels said.

After playing sparingly in 2008 and only a little more in 2009, Daniels broke into the starting lineup on a defensive line manned by a bunch of future NFL players. Even with Adrian Clayborn going in the first round to Tampa Bay, Christian Ballard going in the second round to Minnesota and Karl Klug going in the fifth round to Tennessee, Daniels started eight games and tallied 11 tackles for losses in 2010.

"It was like, ‘How are we going to keep this guy out of the lineup?'" Ferentz recalled thinking during spring practice before the 2010 season.

As a senior, Daniels was named second-team all-Big Ten with team-leading figures of nine sacks and and 13 tackles for losses.

Daniels was selected in the fourth round of last weekend's draft. The Packers hope he'll be the solution to the team's lack of interior pass rush.

That he made his dreams come true — that he's finally wanted — was enough to choke up Daniels on Saturday and again during this interview a couple days later.

"It's awesome. I don't know if it's hit me yet but it really ..." Daniels said before a long pause. "It's like you feel like you want to get back to work. You've seen where your work has gotten you and it makes you want to get right back to work. ‘You know what? I need to get back rolling because it pays off.' You see that it pays off, and all it does is inspire you to work even harder."

Daniels' intangibles fit perfectly. At Iowa, he volunteered at The Spot, where he worked with at-risk kids. Back home, because his parents were working so hard to better the family, his older sister, Jeneca, who's now in her 16th year in the Air Force, acted as a third parent. As a kid, he recalls that going to church on Sunday was a must. If not, his mom, Carlene, wouldn't let him lift weights on Monday.

"You know how kids are, I tried to weasel my way out of going," Daniels said with a laugh. "So, my mom said, ‘OK, you can stay home today but I will not let you go lift weights on Monday.' I was up before she knew it!"

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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