Oakley (Calif.) Freedom High School wide receiver Darrell Daniels committed to the University of Washington on June 16th. The consensus four-star athlete was part of an eight recruit contingent that all gave their pledge to the Huskies on that day. Despite playing on both sides of the ball for his high school team, most scouts are of the opinion that the 6'4, 205-pound Daniels best projects to offense at the next level. One of Northern California's best, Daniels selected the Huskies over such programs as USC, UCLA, California, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Michigan.
Daniels' growth once he gets into a BCS caliber strength and conditioning program will dictate his long term position on the football field. If he remains in the 225 to 230 pound range, he will most likely remain at wide receiver. However, If his body really responds to college level weight training, he could possibly mature into an h-back or a flex option tight end who could pose mismatch opportunities against bigger, slower linebackers.
Evaluating as a wide receiver recruit, however, Daniels offers a really good size/speed ratio, as he is able to turn over his strides more quickly than your typical 6'4 athlete. Typically, a player Daniels' size carries more "built-up" speed than quick twitch explosiveness. Daniels, however, displays good acceleration and burst, and is a legitimate deep threat with the speed to tilt coverage.
From a developmental standpoint, Daniels is an extremely raw recruit. He qualifies as more of an "athlete" than pure wide receiver at this stage, overwhelming opponents with his sheer physical tools. However, he does have natural hands and gains full arm extension, consistently plucking the ball outside of his frame. Despite being obscured somewhat by his stride length, Daniels also carries good acceleration for a player of his size, showing an explosive burst once he gets his shoulders squared as he routinely outruns defenders in the open field.
At this stage, Daniels is limited as a route runner. Part of this is due to the fact he is not a natural knee bender. This causes some stiff and awkward movements on his part that contribute to him not running clean routes. He will often take baby steps at the top of his routes in order to slow his momentum prior to getting into his break. This allows a defender to squat on the route and minimizes the burst he's able to generate transitioning out of his break, limiting his ability to separate.
Daniels' game is based on straight line speed and explosiveness. His lateral quickness is limited. Early on in his career, Daniels would be best used running an assortment of crosses, quick slants and drag routes in addition to being used as vertical threat. The benefit of this would be to get the ball into his hands quickly, so he can use his speed and strength in the open field. This would make better use of his talents, until he improves running sharp breaking routes such as curls, digs and comebacks.
In Daniels, the Huskies are getting a talented recruit who requires a great deal of development. Redshirting him his first year on campus might be the best course of action unless the staff believes Daniels can contribute immediately on special teams as a return specialist while honing his craft.
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