McDaniel primed for senior season, ready to be a leader

by - Senior Writer -
Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel is a Thorpe Award candidate this season

CLEMSON – DeAndre McDaniel is excited about the upcoming football season, and that excitement showed during Clemson’s first practice Tuesday evening, his smile and joy evident for everyone in attendance to see.

The senior safety from Tallahassee, FL, has been named to the watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s top defensive back. The 2009 All-American, had 102 tackles and eight interceptions as a junior, and he said he might have been the most excited player on the field when practice began, and he tried to let his infectious enthusiasm spread to his teammates.

“We have to come out here and work hard every day,” a smiling McDaniel said to reporters once practice was over. “I feel like practice goes by a lot faster when everybody is really into it, and having fun like that. We are running around and everybody was really into it. Everybody was out there and they had a smile on their face and that makes practice a lot more fun. We are excited about it this season.”

McDaniel was asked if he was ready to take on the mantle of a team leader, especially with the departure of C.J. Spiller, and he said he has been preparing for that role all summer, but he also knows that his teammates will pay more attention to what he does more than what he says.

“I feel like I’m ready to take that spot,” he said. “I have worked hard all summer preparing myself to take that spot. I want these guys to look up to me. But I know I’m not perfect, and there isn’t going to be a perfect day, so I have to come out and continue to work hard every day. I came out today and just tried to get better.”

He said he has heard all of the comments about the failure of the defense in the ACC Championship Game against Georgia Tech, and he thinks the entire defense will use last year as motivation for 2010.

“Look, there are no excuses for last year,” he said. “We know that even when we do good things, we are still going to have to go out there and improve. We just have to become even more of a team. That is what [defensive coordinator] Coach Steele was saying today.

“We just have to be there for each other through thick and thin. That loss motivated everybody who played last year in that game. But that isn’t our main focus. We just want to take it one game at a time and get back there so we can try and win this one.”

McDaniel was asked if he could believe that his senior season was finally here, and he just shook his head and said it seemed like yesterday that he arrived from Hargrave Military Academy, and all of the bumps and bruises along the way have made him a better person.

“It has been a hard road for me,” McDaniel said. “Going to Hargrave Military Academy was something that I was not used to, but everything has worked out well since then. But this has flown by. I wasn’t expecting it to fly, even though all of the coaches told me that it would happen. Just like that, it’s this year, and I’m a senior.”

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