Daniel steps up in spring
HUNTINGTON - With Marshall University's football team losing two defensive ends to graduation last season, the opportunity has been open for players to step up.
So far in spring practice that player has been Armonze Daniel, whose steps have become increasingly quicker.
Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said Daniel was challenged before the beginning of the 15-session spring practice period.
"It puts pressure on you to do your job and get better and make a lot of plays," Daniel said. "That's what I'm trying to do."
Daniel has responded with five "sacks" during two Thundering Herd scrimmages.
Part of the development has been an increase in repetitions with starter Ra'Shawde Myers sidelined because of a leg injury.
Daniel has made the most of the extra opportunities while also getting a feel for what is expected of a pass rusher.
"Sometimes those offensive and defensive linemen take a little bit longer to develop and once that light goes on then he's feeling comfortable, he's playing fast and he's looking like what we thought when we recruited him," Holliday said.
The Avon, Ind., native was a highly-touted prospect out of high school, ranking as the 21st-best linebacker prospect in the nation.
He redshirted in his first year with the Herd and was moved to defensive end prior to his first year of playing time in 2012.
Now, at 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, the junior is looking to make an impact with his speed off the edge -- much like what Myers as a junior last season.
Daniel is intent on living up to the expectations when he came to Marshall as one of Holliday's steals in the Class of 2011 when he chose the Herd over Big Ten Conference offers from Iowa, Illinois, Purdue and Indiana.
"I expect a lot out of myself so that helps motivate me," Daniel said.
Part of the intrigue of the recruiting process is that a player can have all the measurable to garner offers, but it's never really known when the intangibles and NCAA Division I football sense will start to click.
Holliday hopes that time is now for Daniel, likening his situation to that of offensive lineman Sebastian "Swede" Johansson, who was buried on the depth chart for two years before emerging as a starting player last season.
"I've been in this a long time and players develop at different times," Holliday said. "Swede, for the first two years, couldn't play, and all of the sudden the third year it starts to click and he became a really good player for us a year ago.
"It's the same thing with Armonze."
While Daniel had three sacks in Friday's scrimmage, possibly his most impressive play came on a run toward the end of the session.
The call was a run off tackle to the opposite side of where Daniel was at his defensive end spot, but he read the play and raced in to get the tackle from the backside and save a big gain.
"Things start to slow down," Daniel said. "Once things slow down, you can go faster. When I first got here, things were probably going way too fast and I needed to get adjusted."
Now that things are slowing down for Daniel, he is making a quick step toward playing time.
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