With the XXth pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, former Nebraska defensive tackle Darrion Daniels has been selected by the XX XX.
Daniels has one of the more interesting Husker careers of all the draft-eligible players from Nebraska in that he was a one-and-done kind of guy in Lincoln.
A 4-star prospect out of high school in Texas, Daniels picked Oklahoma State over a list of schools that included Oklahoma, Ohio State, LSU, Texas, Iowa, Notre Dame and USC. Daniels had an immediate impact for the Pokes’ defense, playing 13 games as a true freshman and earning Oklahoma State’s outstanding defensive newcomer award.
He had a combined 41 tackles, six tackles for loss and three pass breakups over 23 games as a sophomore and junior, earning the Vernon Grant Award for outstanding leadership after his junior year.
A hand injury limited him to four games in 2018, allowing him to redshirt. Before the injury, he figured to play a key role in the Cowboy defense. He had seven tackles and a tackle for loss (sack) in his four appearances, but even though his season was over and he was sidelined, Daniels was a part of the traveling roster for Oklahoma State’s visit to Baylor on Nov. 3 because head coach Mike Gundy felt his team needed Daniels’ presence.
It was that same leadership ability that allowed Daniels to come to Lincoln and make an immediate impact.
“It would be really hard for somebody to change teams, come into a college program and be a leader immediately, but that’s what he’s done,” head coach Scott Frost said of Daniels in the spring of 2018. “He’s brought a spark to that d-line, a sense of accountability to the d-line and the whole defense. He’s going to be a real asset for us, and I’m not just talking about on the field. He’s going to help us off the field as well.”
Daniels was named one of four Husker captains before the season, and then started all but one game (he missed the Wisconsin game with a minor injury). He totaled a career-high 34 tackles on the season, with four tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and his first career interception. Daniels had four tackles in his Husker debut against South Alabama and five tackles against Northern Illinois, including career highs of two TFLs and 1.5 sacks.
His first career interception immediately became one of the highlights of Nebraska’s season.
Oddly enough, Nebraska will have Darrion’s younger brother, Damion, to thank for the assist.
“To be able to get a guy like him on our roster, we’re very fortunate,” defensive line coach Tony Tuioti told Hail Varsity last fall. “If it wasn’t for the relationship that he has with his younger brother, we wouldn’t have him at Nebraska. I know that. He made sacrifices. It’s not like he didn’t contribute at his last school. I know that what he brings to us he brought to that program and I’m just glad he’s brought his talents, he’s brought who he is, his make-up, to Nebraska.”
Daniels was invited to the Reese’s Senior Bowl and the NFL Draft Combine after finishing his college career. At the Combine, he joined defensive back Lamar Jackson and fellow defensive linemen Carlos and Khalil Davis.
With his Xth-round selection, Daniels becomes the sixth Husker defensive lineman taken in the last 10 years, the first since Vincent Valentine and Maliek Collins were both taken in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
When he makes his first Sunday Night Football appearance and the lineups are being read off, Daniels joked he can introduce himself as the “Cornhusking Cowboy.”
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.