Fifty pounds is the difference between a receiver and a linebacker. It’s what turns linebackers into linemen. Fifty pounds is also the distinction between the Stanley Daniels of 2002 and the Stanley Daniels of 2003.
While it’s easy to categorize last season as a disappointing one for Daniels, who had surgeries on both shoulders and missed most of his redshirt season, the lineman feels differently.
Over the past year, Daniels made strides. He rehabbed his shoulders with daily workouts. He transformed his physique. He shaved off the pounds. In 12 months, he went from the 340-pound weight he reported at on freshman day last season to the 290 pounds he stands at today.
As of Friday, he is on the second-team defense working right behind Terry Johnson at defensive tackle. Capable of playing on either side of the line, Daniels says he enjoys where he’s at.
“I think I’m a young, good defensive tackle,” said the Southern California native. “I think I could play the position very well and I’m glad that defensive line coach (Randy) Hart has faith that I can back up Terry in all the big battles we’ll have this year.”
Still, Daniels is open to moving elsewhere as long as it meant helping the team improve.
“I see myself as a defensive tackle, but if Coach Gilbertson had a need at offensive guard I think I could play that position very well,” he said. “Right now I see myself as a defensive tackle.”
Playing along side Tui Alailefaleula at tackle on a defensive line with experienced veterans in Johnson and Stevens and talented younsgers like Dan Milsten, Donny Mateaki, Brandon Ala and Jordan Reffett, Daniels is excited to get the season going.
He knows that as a second-teamer, he’ll likely be in the rotation this year. That bait at the end of the hook has helped Daniels and his counterparts to push themselves to the max each day of fall camp.
“Coach Hart told me and all the second-stringers that it’s quite possible that we are going to get some time in every one of our games this year,” Daniels said. “He told us that we have to play a lot harder. We can’t be out here like, ‘I’m a second-stringer.’ We’ve gotta push.”
That’s a mindset that each member of the team has had to have this fall. After a 7-6 record in 2002, changes had to be made. And when Keith Gilbertson took over as head coach, the changes began.
This fall the team has focused on paying attention to details. They’ve spent extra time in areas they hadn’t before. They’ve done extra conditioning drills and been forced to play mistake-free football. Anything less hasn’t been tolerated.
Daniels has definitely taken notice.
“It’s a tough camp,” said Daniels. “Coach Gilbertson is putting on a tough camp which is going to be good for us because Ohio State is coming up and that is going to be a battle.
“I think he’s doing a real good job with us right now. He’s teaching all the young guys, especially all the guys on the line like me, that you’ve got to be tough. You can’t come up patty-caking. You’ve got to bang out there.”
Fifty pounds lighter and injury-free, Daniels wants to show the coaching staff he’s ready for the challenge.