It’s still relatively early in the recruiting process for 2013 defensive end prospect Elijah Daniel (Avon, Ind./Avon).
Nonetheless, the Oklahoma Sooners have positioned themselves to be in the mix for Daniel’s signature. OU is one of seven schools, including Florida and Tennessee, who have offered the junior.
When asked how he would characterize his interest in OU, Daniel said, “Very high.”
Despite playing high school football in Big Ten country, playing close to home isn’t high on Daniel’s priority list. Instead, the standout defensive end is simply looking for a home away from home.
“I’m pretty wide open,” Daniel said. “As long as the school fits me and I fit them, I’m good. [I want to go] somewhere you can go and feel like you’ve lived there for a long time.”
Elite pass rushers are hard to find and they have the potential to be game changers. Daniel, at 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, could develop into that type of pass rushing threat.
“He’s got the tools to be a great pass rusher,” Avon coach Mark Bless said. “He’s a good-sized, long-armed defensive end with great explosion.”
A self professed “football junkie” growing up, Daniel keeps a close eye on some of the NFL’s top pass rushers including Pittsburgh’s James Harrison, Green Bay’s Clay Matthews and Indianapolis’ Dwight Freeney. He tries to duplicate their relentlessness when it comes to capturing quarterbacks and believes that is what separates him from other defenders.
“My aggressiveness and playing with an attitude,” Daniel said. “I don’t like people getting in my way, either you’re moving or I’m going through you.”
His love of the game is another attribute that could help Daniel become an impact player at the Division I level. Plenty of players have the talent but don’t possess the drive to be great and the love of football required to make an impact.
“He breathes and sleeps football,” Bless said.
Ironically, Daniel didn’t even dream of playing college football during his childhood, he just played for fun.
“I was just playing the game because I loved it,” Daniel said.
Now his love of the game could make him one of the most highly-recruited defensive end prospects in the nation.