McDaniel Ready to Put 2008 In the Past, Start Fresh in 2009


by - Senior Writer -
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Photos by Fotoman [Practice Gallery 2]

CLEMSON – Clemson’s DeAndre McDaniel had a rough start to the 2008 football season, but one play in Clemson’s Gator Bowl loss to Nebraska may help him set the tone for a different 2009.

The Tigers and Huskers were scown reless late in the second quarter of the January game, and with Nebraska on offense in their territory, Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz ran an option play, attempting to pitch to back Quentin Castille.

McDaniel, however, read the play beautifully, tipping the ball in mid-pitch, picked it up on the first bounce and beat Castille into the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown and a 7-0 Clemson lead, the first touchdown for the Tallahassee native since high school.

McDaniel was playing linebacker in that game, but has moved back to his natural safety spot in 2009, and said his strong Gator Bowl performance and lack of drama in 2009 has led to a less-stressful off-season, and he is looking forward to getting back out on the field.

”Last year was definitely a distraction,” McDaniel said. “There were a lot of things going on with me, but now I can relax and just play football and make plays in the field. This season so far has been very relaxing, and I feel really good. Safety is my natural position, so it is more comfortable for me. Last year I was out of position, but that was the position the coach wanted me to play and I accepted it.”

McDaniel has no problem describing the play in question, and said that the Clemson coaches had prepared him all week for that particular play. After the snap, it was just recognition and reaction.

”It wasn’t trap coverage, and they sent the option at me,” McDaniel said. “I was supposed to play the quarterback on that play, and I ran to him, but I guess he thought I was going to bite on him so he made the pitch. I did not know if I could get my hand on the ball, but I stuck it out there, tipped it and it hit the ground. Iit bounced once. Once I touched it, my goal was to go all the way with it. We do the scoop and score in practice in all the time.”

McDaniel said that 2009 will be different for not only him, but for the team as well, as the high expectations of a season ago are just a memory, and the 2009 squad has a chance at a fresh start.

”We started off last season, before the first game, on a high and I guess we everybody thought we were already at the top,” McDaniel said. “Now we are under the radar and really have something to play for and can envision number one. We are turning it up more and more every day. On defense, if everybody plays like they are supposed to, there is no doubt we can be the number one defense in the nation.”

McDaniel was asked if there was one team on the schedule that he would like to get his second score against, he didn’t hesitate in naming his hometown Seminoles.

Florida State, definitely,” he said. “That is my hometown, and everybody, all my friends and family, are going to be here at that game. I would love to have them enjoy me taking a touchdown back on them. I always want to do something big against them.”

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