As I was reading the Columbus Dispatch this morning over my morning coffee at 6:15 at McD's here in Upper Sandusky, as I do every morning, I was encouraged by an article on Alex Daniels. (long sentence). Daniels plays defensive end and very well, I might add, for the Cincinnati Bearcats.
When Alex played high school football for Brookhaven in Columbus, he was not one of my favorites. One of the national recruiting services Rivals rated him a 4 Star, whatever that means. Said that he was one of the top 11 athletes in the country, whatever that means. Watched him his junior year at Marion Franklin. Saw in camp. Evaluated him at Brookhaven his senior year. Attitude and effort was always questionable.
A physical specimen at 6'2-220 who could run, change direction, and close on the ball. My problem he never really closed on the ball, and all I saw was some "gifted athlete" talk, talk, and talk some more. Never played every down. Now, he could trash talk for sure. He went on to Minnesota, as part of a package, with two other prospects from Brookhaven. Played some as a freshman. Moved to TB as a sophomore, but was far from a natural RB, but he did okay. Although he was never charged, he was at a party involving drinking and some sexual allegations. He was dismissed from the team and came back home to Columbus. Soon he realized that his old neighborhood was not the place to be. "I grew up overnight," he said.
Former UC coach Brian Kelly told him if he paid his way, and stayed out of trouble, he MIGHT get a scholarship. He worked hard at odd jobs, studied, took out loans, and even used his car as a place to sleep at night.
Alex Daniels was given a chance to play football at UC by Brian Kelly. He had nothing else going, except surviving on the streets of Columbus. Kelly, of course was not born yesterday, saw his physical skills and athleticism, and gave him the chance. Daniels deserves oh so much credit for turning his life around. As you watched the game against Florida, he will make his presence known.
When Kelly took the Notre Dame job recently and announced that he would not be coaching the Bearcats, Daniels blasted him in the media. He made some really angry comments. Of course, McCallister thought to himself. Typical Daniels, trash talking just like he did years ago in high school. I thought, " Kelly gives him a chance, but Alex is the same old Alex." However, a negative turned into a big positive.
Now that he has calmed down, he expresses his love for his "father-figure, his role model, someone in his life who pushed him to be better." Over the anger now, Kelly was the father-figure that he never had. That, he said, was why it hurt so much and caused the "trash talk."
The real purpose of this blog entry is to express my praise for Alex Daniels. He has survived so much. More importantly, he "manned-up" to some comments that he made in anger. That really impresses me. I am "old school," and has one called me the "old guard," I still appreciate young people who can be leaders of "younger" people. When you have taught and coached for 31 years, and now are in the business that I am in, the Alex Daniels of the world are refreshing.
I applaude Alex Daniels. Please be a leader of young people. "Role models" may be a thing of the past. But "young leaders" of younger people are very much in demand. When this now 6'4-270 man who can run and hit, plays on Sunday's, McCallister may have to " man-up" to Rivals. (maybe). As he says he "struggled and survived." Now it is time to lead.