Why JUCO cornerback DJ Daniel will strongly consider his UGA offer
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 for Wednesday calls for a glimpse into the life and times of junior college cornerback prospect DJ Daniel. He picked up his offer from UGA over the weekend.
DJ Daniel was a Class of 2017 prospect coming out of Spalding High School in Griffin, Ga. The cornerback had all the tools back then to smother 4-star and 5-star receivers.
But his story now arcs between what took place between two meetings. The first was with his mother Amanda Mangham and Spalding coach Nick Davis. The second was with the coach of the defending SEC champions not quite two years later.
Daniel, 19, describes that day with Davis as one of the toughest of his life.
“We sat down and had a talk with Coach Davis,” Daniel said. “He was just telling my mom we had to go the JUCO route. He said we still have a chance, but that was what we had to do. That was the day where I can say that we were all the most down. My mom was crying. She was disappointed in me. I knew I was better than that.
“I told myself that my hunger for the game had to go up even more. All that I ever want is for my mother to smile. She doesn’t care what I do as long as I am successful at what I do. She just wants me to give it my all and to the best of my ability. I wasn’t doing that in the classroom and earning my chance to play college football.”
His mother also was there for that second meeting. It took place on Sunday. Mangham was present to hear Kirby Smart tell the Georgia Military College sophomore that he had an offer to play in Athens.
“What do I think was my happiest day over the last two years?” Daniel said. “I think that was just getting the Georgia offer. That was when I saw my mom when it looked like she was the happiest. Don’t get me wrong. She was really happy after all of my offers, but I think that me getting that Georgia offer really made her proud. It really made her proud.”
He said he hadn’t seen his mother that happy for him since the day he graduated from Spalding in 2017.
Daniel is on track to graduate from Georgia Military College in December and race to his next team in January. He told DawgNation he will have two years to play two seasons at his future school.
South Carolina was his first SEC offer. That was the one that showed him his path to Saturdays through the junior college route was going to work out.
Look for him to make his decision prior to his 2018 season. He said he will take his five official visits.
There are probably up to about seven schools in contention for those options.
Where will the Bulldogs stand in that process? That’s the next block of the Davis Daniel Jr. story to discuss.
How does DJ Daniel feel about Georgia?
Daniel said he knows what he did with his life between those two meetings with Davis and Smart is what really matters. The 6-foot, 185-pound prospect didn’t have the transcript to sign with a top program coming out of high school.
“I just didn’t have the grades,” Daniel said. “I wasn’t focused early in high school. It really taught me how to be humble. It really taught me how to stay [true] to myself. Something that GMC really showed me was that every action has a reaction.”
If he had the grades coming out of high school, he probably would have signed with UGA.
“Just coming out of high school and not really knowing much, I would probably say Georgia would have been my choice,” he said. “Being that I’m from Georgia. Everybody from Griffin in my hometown they look up to UGA and everything that they do. It is just a Georgia way for a lot of folks.”
— Chosen One ✨ (@djdaniel_14) June 2, 2018
How does he feel about that now?
“I look at it not really in a different way,” he said. “I still like Georgia. My family really loves Georgia. I’m just weighing all my options. That’s why I say that Georgia would probably have been the No. 1 for me coming out of high school. I didn’t want anything else but Georgia, but that was when I did not take the time to weigh out all my options like I will now.”
Where does that offer now fit in with his options?
“Oh, it will most definitely fit in,” Daniel said. “This offer from Georgia really means a lot. It really did. My family was proud but they never want me to quit pushing and let up with this hunger that I have for the game. I will never settle, and now I will just see how it all plays out.”
Daniel said he realizes that everything in his life happens for a reason. It has shaped him, but he now has almost 20 offers to sort out.
It sounds like he will have a few schools close to his heart. He didn’t say this, but I do gather the fact that South Carolina came with that first SEC offer always will mean something to him.
— Chosen One ✨ (@djdaniel_14) June 5, 2018
And then there will be what sounds like a strong home-state tug to UGA, too.
Daniel said he thought he had an offer prior to his unofficial visit over the weekend. But then he got an “official” offer from Kirby Smart.
“I met him before the camp that day started and he said that he had watched my film,” Smart said. “He said he loved what I do. My long arms. Press coverage. I saw him after the camp and he told me that I had ‘an offer here at Georgia’ and when he told me that, it really took my breath away. It did. Man, I’m just going to stay humble through this process. .. But [that one] took my breath.”
What this opportunity means to DJ Daniel
His time with the JUCO Bulldogs instilled more in him than just how to make up a bed the way a 5-star housekeeper would. Georgia Military College is known for that and a certain brand of mental discipline, too.
He chose the nickname “The Chosen One” to place onto his Twitter page.
“I feel as though everybody has been chosen for something,” Daniel said. “You don’t have to play sports. That could be being a doctor or a dentist. Everybody is chosen for something. That really means a lot to me.”
He said he thinks his calling is to play cornerback. That would be the press man coverage and bump-and-run variety that sends SEC defensive coordinators to the junior college ranks to find those rare tall corners with length who excel at that.
“I was chosen to play football,” Daniel said. “The love and the passion I have for the game is like no other. I thrive on it. I go to sleep thinking about ways that I can be better.”
Dan Lanning, the first-year outside linebackers coach, is his primary recruiter for the Bulldogs.
“Man, that’s my guy,” Daniel said. “He was really like the first person to reach out to me about coming to the facility and coming to their camp. It was all because of coach Dan Lanning. He was the guy who convinced me that Georgia really wanted me. He was just telling me how my style of play will fit into the Georgia defense.”
Breaking down DJ Daniel as a prospect
When that meeting happened with Daniel and his mother, Davis knew he could move on.
“He got it,” Nick Davis said. “He really understood it is what it is. From there, he knew if he wanted it bad enough he had to go out and get it. He has that personality about himself. He’s that kid who once he makes up his mind about doing something, he is going to get it done.”
Daniel has all the measurables. Athletic. Aggressive. The long arms. Mental toughness. Strength. Speed.
“We knew it was going to happen,” Davis said. “He was that type of player. He just got behind the 8-ball early in ninth and tenth grade and couldn’t really recover academically. But as far as his play, he is a big-time Division I player. We knew that. We knew once he got on the field at the junior college level, he was going to take off.”
Davis has been Spalding’s coach for seven years. Daniel ranks in the top 5 of the players the Jaguars have produced under his watch. There was the time he pummeled a receiver with such a physical tackle that it drew a penalty.
Davis still contends that the stop was legal.
“The play that sticks out the most was the play he made against Griffin,” Davis said. “They throw a little hitch route, and he comes up and picks the guy up and slams him. They actually threw a flag on him and they called it a personal foul for making a vicious tackle. It was a legal tackle that was made before the whistle was blown. He is a true competitor now.”
The process for Daniel, which was set to go crazy in the summer and fall of 2016, is taking place now.
“Now everybody is calling me now and blowing the phone up trying to get in on him,” Davis said.
What does the D-line board look like for 2019?
DawgNation took a good look on Tuesday evening at a popular topic for our “Question of the Day” series.
It was timely given the events of the day regarding the defensive line targets for the Bulldogs in the Class of 2019.
Mountain View 4-star defensive tackle Jaelin Humphries committed to Florida. C.J. Clark, a 4-star DT from North Carolina, also announced his commitment date. Georgia even offered another 6-foot-6 defensive line prospect from Tennessee on Tuesday.
The other big UGA offer on Tuesday
That wasn’t the only major development for the Bulldogs yesterday. Georgia also finally offered Lanier (Buford, Ga.) 3-star quarterback prospect Zach Calzada.
Calzada has had a rapid ascent since he was named the quarterback MVP at the MVP Camp at Lovejoy High School last winter. He even competed in the Elite 11 quarterback event last weekend in California.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior now ranks as the nation’s No. 21 pro-style prospect for 2019 on the 247Sports composite.
— Zach Calzada (@ZachCalzada) June 4, 2018
He impressed the UGA staff up close with his work at the 7-on-7 event on Tuesday.
Received an offer from UGA today‼️ pic.twitter.com/hr7Jp135Ai
— Zach Calzada (@ZachCalzada) June 5, 2018
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