Although he is only 19, Alex Daniels has made it clear during his high school and college football careers he’s capable of playing multiple positions. At Brookhaven High School in Columbus, Ohio he played linebacker, safety and running back. Last season, playing linebacker for the Gophers, he was one of only three true freshmen (non-red shirts) to earn a letter.
After the opening game he was named co-Big Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Week for his performance as a running back in the Gophers’ 44-0 win over Kent State. Daniels had a game-high 155 yards on 24 carries (6.5 yards per rush) and scored three touchdowns.
Not bad for a guy moved to running back in early August when expectations were that Daniels would become a star linebacker on a defense in need of athleticism and big plays. Coach Glen Mason decided to try Daniels at running back based on the need to add quality and depth to that position.
There was more to it than need, though, because Mason had been impressed with Daniels’ athleticism and running in high school. “One of the things that caught my eye was his ability to run in the games that I saw him, plus I saw him in a track meet,” Mason said.
At 6-foot-3, 260-pounds, Daniels is much more of a power back than the Gophers were accustomed to when they had speedsters Laurence Maroney and Gary Russell, but Mason made it clear his newest tailback is no slow-poke even with all that size and muscle. “He probably runs more like a 6-1, 220 pound guy, and so if we do a good job up front and he can get up a full head of steam, he can wear you out pretty quickly,” Mason said.
As a newcomer, Daniels has a lot to learn about the Gophers’ offense and the running back position. “It started out as an experiment and I am not saying it is still in the experimental stages but we still have a long way to go… he is improving daily and had a good first game,” Mason said.
Daniels was a prize catch in the Gophers’ 2005 recruiting class. At Brookhaven he was ranked nationally as America’s No. 10 best safety, 11th best athlete, 16th best safety and the 108th best overall player. Now that he is a running back at Minnesota he can target some more rankings.