Elite JUCO target D.J. Daniel presses ever closer to his decision
Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. The play sheet today calls for a chance to break down the rapidly approaching decision from Georgia Military College cornerback target D.J. Daniel.
MILLEDGEVILLE — D.J. Daniel is getting close.
“Close” in the context of his pending college decision sounds like two weeks. Daniel told DawgNation on Thursday he still expects to make his decision by the end of this month.
He wasn’t sure if he could make the decision now. The summer semester at GMC will wrap up in less than a week.
It will help. That will give him the time to sort everything out.
What will it all come down to?
“Just family,” he said. “Praying to God and the fit scheme-wise for my position.”
He said on Thursday the decision will come down to Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Tennessee.
It was interesting he did not bring up Alabama.
Georgia Military coach Bert Williams said that Nick Saban does like him. When the Tide offered, Saban sized up his all-around ability and felt Daniel would be best at safety in his program.
The reality here is Daniel can likely play anywhere he wants. Especially after watching him on Thursday. He clocked 4.40 and 4.42 on a pair of 40-yard dashes. Those were hand times and came on grass that had not been cut since Monday.
“Very slow track,” Williams said. “That was impressive.”
He was clocked on two watches and those were the averages. He did go sub 4.4 on at least one of those watches.
Well….@djdaniel_14 just clocked between 4.40 and 4.42 today during 40s at Georgia Military College. Average on two watches. Hand times. 6-foot JUCO press man CB. His speed burst button appears to be working in fine order. Don’t blink. pic.twitter.com/qOYlcMjwut
— Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) July 19, 2018
Daniel is a pretty sharp young man. He is aware of all the online chatter that points him to Georgia or South Carolina. Which team could be the dark horse? Daniel said that would be Kentucky. South Carolina was the first school to offer him earlier this year but Kentucky was actually the first school he ever visited.
His brother, Nile Daniel, was actually committed to Kentucky for a time. He was a wide receiver prospect that eventually had to go the junior college route, too.
He is strongly considering the chance to attend the new UGA locker room reveal on July 28. The Griffin native has yet to make an official decision on that visit plan yet. The staff is encouraging him to attend.
“I’m going to talk to my family about all of that and see if it all checks out,” he said.
Daniel is not planning to make any more official visits at this time.
“I feel like I have got what I need to make my decision,” Daniel said. “I just need to talk to God about it.”
Why DJ Daniel rates as the nation’s No. 2 JUCO cornerback
Daniel checks in at No. 2 among junior college cornerbacks on the 247Sports composite rankings. He’s the No. 5 overall junior college prospect.
He said he was up to 188 pounds. The former Spalding High standout said he’s also been measured with a wingspan from tip to tip of approximately 81 inches.
Williams feels that Daniel is as good as any of the cornerbacks that have been at GMC during his 19 years (16 as head coach) of the Bulldogs.
- Fastest player on the team? At least in the top 4.
- Physical tackler? Yes.
- Team leader type? Voice in the locker room? Yes and yes.
- Team captain even? Yes.
- Short memory? Yes.
- Press man coverage specialist? Yes.
- Can work at the “Star” or at safety: Yes
- Willing to work anywhere in the secondary: Yes
Daniel’s first big reps on the JUCO level came by fire. He was a freshman last season and maybe weighed 165 pounds. GMC had a talented secondary last fall that included two sophomores that would go on to sign at North Carolina State and Appalachian State, respectively.
Those were the starting corners until they both went down in the first game with a dislocated elbow.
“We lost both of them by the midpoint of the first quarter of the first game,” Williams said. “So (D.J.) had to start from then on after being in the second rotation to begin the year. We were down to three corners and thin there for a long time. D.J. just had to step in and really compete his butt off. He did.”
He will check a lot of boxes. Speed. Hands. Length. Physicality. Which ones are the most impressive to his coach?
“I think it is the length and the speed with him,” Williams said. “You don’t see many six feet cornerbacks with his good speed and that arm length. Those are the biggest things and then you put his mindset on top of that. You are going to have to really beat him down to beat him. His mind won’t allow himself to get beat and stay down for more than that one play. He’s just a tough and a competitive kid.”
Williams put Daniel in the mix of the top 3 or 4 cornerbacks he has seen at GMC in his time.
“We’ve had a number of guys make it to the NFL at the corner position,” Williams said. “Some outstanding talent and length and speed. From a physical standpoint, he is the total package and maybe just the best raw skill guy in that bunch right now and that’s saying a lot. He will do good things at the next level.”
There is another trait in his makeup that the GMC staff appreciates.
“He just takes care of his business,” Williams said. “He’s quiet and very humble off the field. He’s not running around here talking about who all is recruiting him and what he is going to do and all that stuff. It is kind of hard to get him to talk about a whole lot of that. But when he is on the field the true player and the true competitor comes out and it is game on when he walks out there. He flips that switch and becomes a different guy.”
How D.J. Daniel changed the mind of the staff at UGA
The Bulldogs did not plan to target a junior college cornerback this year.
“From my understanding, they really weren’t looking for a junior college corner because of what they already have on the field,” Williams said. “But they were so impressed with what he can do after they saw him they pulled the trigger on him.”
The Bulldogs make it clear to him that there’s an immediacy with his worth to the program.
“They tell me that because they are looking at a JUCO corner then they want me to play now,” Daniel said. “If they were to sign a freshman, they know they can have him for three or four years and give him time to develop. When they recruit a JUCO guy like me, then they expect me to be able to play right away.”
It is clear the Bulldogs do not just view him as another elite prospect for the secondary.
“They tell me I’m not a want for them,” he said. “They say ‘I am a need’ and the coaches at Georgia have told me they would not recruit a junior college corner if he could not play right away. I hear them say that and I feel it, too.”
He hears from Mel Tucker and Kirby Smart. But those guys have help. Dan Lanning is doing another excellent recruiting job with this target. Daniel is also in daily contact with UGA support staff members Bacarri Rambo and Nick Williams.
“Coach Dan Lanning that’s my guy,” Daniel said. “We talk every day. He talks to my grandma. The same with coach (Bacarri) Rambo and the same with coach Nick (Williams.) I met them all on my visit and I feel like I have got a real bond with them.”
What the best thing he likes about Georgia?
“Just the love and the communication,” Daniel said. “Not just with me. They talk more with my family than they do with me. I just know that there is the love there. They are just straightforward with me.”
When he signs with one of those five schools, he will have two years to play two seasons. South Carolina will also show up big here.
“They were the first SEC school to offer me,” Daniel said. “I know I can really talk to (coach Will) Muschamp. Coach T-Rob (defensive coordinator Tavaris Robinson) just keeps it very straightforward and is always real with me. He’s not about the sugar coat. He shows me the depth chart and shows me how many corners they will have for next year and how they need me.”
A neat little scouting story on D.J. Daniel
Daniel saw his recruiting take off in late spring. He had some offers on the smaller scale, but his stock really took off with the major Power 5 programs once they came to see him live.
South Carolina defensive coordinator Tavaris Robinson was really the first coach to identify him as an elite prospect. He offered him on the spot after he saw him in person.
“He pressed so much on film that they could never really get a feel for his speed,” Williams said. “He wasn’t a return guy for us and all that. There were not a lot of clips on there where you could really see him open up. Then almost every SEC school that came in here watched about three or four snaps and said ‘He’s offered’ because the one thing they all wanted to see was his top end speed. They liked his size and length and the physicality and his feet. They could see he had the flexibility and all those tools in his hips.”
“When they saw him live he jumped from being a recruited guy to a highly-recruited guy in a hurry.”
Robinson was the first coach to tell Williams that Daniel could play every position in the secondary.
“He said he was everything you wanted in a corner but that he had the body size and the speed and the physicality to be the safety in the nickel,” Williams said. “You can really plug him anywhere.”
Daniel feels he can play anywhere. He’s comfortable with anything in the secondary. But he did state that his preferred position would be at cornerback.
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