If you haven’t heard about Reggie Daniels, you’re about to, whether you read on or not. The 6’1″ 200 pound redshirt freshman safety is said to be the real deal by program insiders. Ranked 4-stars by 247 Sports, Scout and ESPN coming out of Hamilton High School in Chandler, Arizona, Daniels was the prized catch of defensive backs coach John Neal’s 2012 recruiting class.
According to Justin Hopkins of Duck Territory, Daniels was at the very top of the staff’s defensive backs board in 2011 when the safety committed to Oregon. Analysts thought highly of Daniels because of his size, speed and well-rounded skill set. Watching his high school highlights, it’s evident that Daniels isn’t scared to play in the box and lay the wood. At the same time, he looks like a natural in coverage and has great ball skills. There’s no doubt that Daniels passes the eye test; he certainly looks like a BCS-level safety.
The reports coming out of Eugene aren’t surprising. By all accounts, Daniels came in as a talented prospect who has worked hard and been notably coachable. While he ultimately redshirted last year, the coaches almost pulled it multiple times throughout the season because of his production on the practice squad. Make no mistake about it, where there’s enough smoke from enough sources, there’s a fire. Reggie is in line to be the next great defensive back at Oregon.
The most telling information is how highly Coach Neal valued Daniels during the recruiting process. Neal has proven to be a great evaluator and developer of talent. Since 2009, five Oregon defensive backs have been drafted into the NFL:
- Jairus Byrd (2nd Round by Buffalo in 2009)
- Patrick Chung (2nd Round by New England in 2009)
- TJ Ward (2nd Round by Cleveland in 2010)
- Walter Thurmond (4th Round by Seattle in 2010)
- John Boyett (6th Round by Indianapolis in 2013)
In addition to those five, Eddie Pleasant is also in the league playing for the Houston Texans and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Terrance Mitchell are locks to be in the NFL by 2015, if not next year. The bottom line is that John Neal knows what he’s doing; if he loves Reggie Daniels then so should Duck fans.
Looking ahead I expect Daniels to make an impact in 2013. Avery Patterson is coming off of an injury and it remains to be seen how soon he’ll be at 100%. Brian Jackson, Erick Dargan and Isaac Dixon are the returning safeties with experience. At the very least Daniels should surpass Dixon for a spot on the two-deep and, if Patterson can’t get healthy, it’s possible he could be Oregon’s starting free safety in 2013.
By 2014, expect Daniels to hold down the starting free safety position and go on to have a great career at Oregon. When all is said and done I’d be surprised if Daniels isn’t playing on Sundays. He’s talented, practice reports have been glowing and he’s playing for a DB coach with a history of developing NFL caliber safeties. Get familiar with the name Reggie Daniels; you’ll be hearing it a lot over the next few years.
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