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Daniels headlines 2015 Iowa class

BY DANNY PAYNE | FEBRUARY 04, 2015 5:00 AM

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By the time James Daniels, Iowa’s only four-star recruit (according to Rivals.com) in its 2015 recruiting class, steps on the Kinnick Stadium turf in uniform, he’ll be very familiar with Iowa City. He’ll have spent at least one semester at Iowa — he’s already enrolled in classes — and his brother, running back LeShun Daniels Jr., is a rising junior.

Add that his father, also named LeShun, played offensive line for Ohio State fewer than 20 years ago, and one of the 21 newest Hawkeyes in this class should be well-versed in the Big Ten.

“No. 1, obviously, he has great pedigree for Division I college football,” Rivals.com Midwest recruiting reporter Josh Helmholdt said. “… I like that he has versatility. I like that athletically and physically he knows what it takes to succeed.”

The youngest Daniels, a Warren (Ohio) product, comes into the Iowa program as a center, although as Helmholdt noted, he has the potential to play more than one position on the offensive line.

The reasoning behind this is threefold. One, Daniels’ 6-4, 275-pound frame lends itself nicely to other positions on the line, and his 40-yard dash time of 5.2 seconds isn’t great, but it’s good enough to move around if needed. Third, centers have to know what linemen’s assignments in a given blocking scheme, so it’s easy enough to play another interior spot (See: Austin Blythe).

On whether Iowa fans will see Daniels blocking for his older brother this fall, that’s where the questions lie. Doing the math, Iowa doesn’t necessarily need him to.

On the two-deep depth chart head coach Kirk Ferentz released in January, the Hawkeyes have eight total letters won among the six players listed at guard and center. Blythe, right guard Jordan Walsh, and left guard Sean Welsh are returning starters.

“He certainly has the frame to do it,” Kakert said. “Center is just a really, really tough position to learn and to play and make line calls. It’s a very demanding position, probably the hardest offensive-line position for a true freshman to come in and play.”

Sure, there’s always the chance things could click early for Daniels and he forces his way into the lineup, but history isn’t necessarily on his side, either. It’s a Ferentzian trend for players to go through “the process,” especially on the offensive line.

In fact, no one listed on the two-deeps has a redshirt year still available. But at this point, this early in Daniels’ career, it’s uncertain. Unlikely, but ultimately uncertain he doesn’t take a redshirt year.

And that’s OK for Iowa. The Hawkeyes are still getting an potential impact offensive lineman who could contribute for years to come while wearing the black and gold.

“He has good size already and could probably fit at a few different spots on the interior of the offensive line,” ESPN recruiting reporter Tom VanHaaren wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan. “He probably won’t be a guy who plays right away, but he doesn’t need to start right out of the gates.”


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