July 2, 2011
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Mike Daniels has been around the block. Entering his fifth year with the program, he’s looked upon as one of the leaders of the Hawkeye defense and the University of Iowa football team.
That’s not an issue for Daniels. He relishes, cherishes the role.
“It’s a great deal,” he said. “It gives me more energy. I see why the older guys — throughout the drudgery of camp — how hard it is and through conditioning — they always seem to have that extra fire, that let’s go, let’s get it attitude.
“I finally understand where they get that from. Just knowing that this is the last go round and everybody on the team is looking up at them, even guys from other positions. Coaches are looking for them to be the leaders, and it gives you more of a sense of urgency.”
Through the early portion of summer conditioning, Daniels is pleased with the leadership he’s seen from the younger players. Young guys are taking care of the younger guys, showing them the ropes of Iowa football.
“We need to be better. We can’t let what happened, happen again. We need to keep improving. You have to do something you’ve never done to go somewhere where you’ve never been and guys are taking the initiative to do more than what’s expected of them.”
Senior Mike Daniels
“The leadership was there (in the past), but this is the best I’ve seen because it was more so from the older guys,” said Daniels. “Now you see it from the younger guys as well, starting to step up and take care of the younger guys — guys that are only a year younger than them, but they look at it as their job to help them get used to how we do things around here.”
Daniels finds himself watching the way he carries himself more now that he’s the “old guy” on the Iowa defense. Being a fifth year senior, he knows that younger players are looking at him to set an example.
“There aren’t any older guys here anymore,” said Daniels. “I am the oldest guy here, so it is kind of weird that guys are looking up to you. You really have to watch the things you say and how you carry yourself because you’re setting an example every day.”
Daniels is a good player to have at the forefront setting the example. The New Jersey native played in all 13 games in 2010 with eight starts. He had 11 tackles for loss and four sacks, earned honorable mention all-Big Ten honors by both the league coaches and media, and was the recipient of the team’s Hustle Team Award, Defense.
“Mike is leading those guys in a way that few guys can lead,” said James Ferentz, who has the task of blocking Daniels each day in practice. “Mike is very intense, he’s into everything. If he doesn’t like the way a young guy is behaving, he gets right in their face and lets them know about it.
“The way he is able to convey his message is really good. He brings guys in, he doesn’t push them away. I think he’s going to lead and show those guys how to push through the grind of a season.”
With the NFL lockout still in effect, Daniels has a handful of former Hawkeyes and current NFL players sharing their knowledge and training with the team in Iowa City.
“Those guys are so cool about it (how they interact with the team), like they’ve never left the program and are still apart of the team,” said Daniels. “For the younger guys to have that exposure, it’s like they’re getting the best of both worlds. They’re learning from us and getting what those guys have learned in the NFL at such a young age.”
Daniels points to the work the team is doing on their own as a reason he thinks the team can build on the 2010 season, where Iowa went 8-5 with an Insight Bowl victory over Missouri.
“We need to be better,” he said. “We can’t let what happened, happen again. We need to keep improving. You have to do something you’ve never done to go somewhere where you’ve never been and guys are taking the initiative to do more than what’s expected of them.”
Iowa opens the season Sept. 3 against Tennessee Tech. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. (CT) inside Kinnick Stadium.