Iowa’s James Daniels is one of the top centers in… Wait, let’s try that again. Iowa’s James Daniels is one of the top guards in the 2018 rookie class. Or should it be tackle? It’s hard to tell what position to call him yet, but no matter where he winds up playing, the versatile offensive lineman is a major name to watch during this year’s draft.
Daniels started two games at guard during his 2015 freshman season before switching over to center for his remaining two seasons. He excelled at both positions, and with his impressive athleticism and length, a possible move to tackle isn’t off the table at the next level either.
How has he been able to be so versatile? “I feel like I have two things that really help me: I’m smart and athletic,” Daniels explained. “You need to be smart so you can learn each position and switch over when something happens, and you need to be athletic so that you don’t have to worry about being beat on the edge.”
The Iowa football program also played a big role in Daniels’ ability to develop – just look at all the lineman talent they’ve produced for the pro game over the last few years. “(Head) Coach Ferenz and (Strength and Conditioning) Coach Doyle are the biggest reason for that,” he said. “It’s a developmental program, so we take guys who may not be ready to play right away and grow them into the best players that they can become.”
And as Daniels preps for his own shot at the next level, he’ll have two excellent role models to give him advice.
“My dad played football at Ohio State and in the pros, so when I was young, he introduced me to the sport and taught me a lot of life lessons. And my brother (LeShun Daniels Jr.) is two years older than me. He’s my best friend and we would play a lot of backyard football together. He’s in the pros now too and his journey – he got cut, picked up, cut again – really made me look at is work ethic and appreciate it.”
So he’s got the family pedigree, but Daniels is also his own player. And whether he is asked to be a center, guard, tackle, or, heck, even tight end in the pros, it’s clear he has everything he needs to be successful.