Following what can be considered his best and most productive season in a Husker uniform, defensive lineman Damion Daniels announced that he’ll be forgoing his final year of eligibility at Nebraska.
“'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. '” — Jeremiah 29:11 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/j5FtHRbU1x
— Damion Daniels (@Dboogie_93) December 4, 2021
Daniels, a team captain this season, earned All-Big Ten honorable mention accolades from the coaches and media in 2021. The Dallas, Texas, native started the first 11 games at defensive tackle this year before suffering an injury at Wisconsin that kept him from playing most of the second half and in the season finale against Iowa.
Daniels finished his fifth year at Nebraska with a career-high 33 tackles and two tackles for a loss, but it was his play in the trenches—commanding double teams which led to open alleys for his linebackers to get tackles—that didn’t always garner statistics that helped Nebraska’s defense turn into one of the better units in the Big Ten.
Daniels started his 2021 season off with a great performance at Illinois, where he racked up six tackles against Bret Bielema’s team. He totaled 78 tackles and 6.5 stops for a loss in his career. Daniels’ ability to take on offensive line blocks helped lead to linebacker Luke Reimer recording a team-high 108 tackles, which ranks third in the Big Ten. Nick Henrich, another linebacker that played behind Daniels, finished his season with 99 stops.
Daniels played with his brother, Darrion, in 2019. To become the force along the defensive line that he was this season, Daniels had to make some changes to his body since he’s been in Lincoln. He put in the work and did so, and reaped the benefits along the way.
“I think we always knew he was a good player,” Husker defensive coordinator Erik Chinander said of Daniels prior to the season opener at Illinois. “We talked to you guys about how his stamina needed to increase when he was younger. And then his brother came and his brother got voted captain, and he had to take a back seat to his brother. Then his brother left and he did an unbelievable job of changing his body. A lot of times when you change your body and you change your play and the guys see how you’re changing your habits, then all of a sudden your shoulders go from here to here, and I think you you saw that with his personality.
“Guys really respect him, obviously, so much that they voted him captain. So I think his personality and his leadership skills have grown as much his athletic ability or football ability throughout the years.”
Daniels’ defensive line coach, Tony Tuioti, said Daniels’ physical transformation and the example he’s set in the weight room and on the practice field is a big part of why teammates gravitated to him. But it goes beyond that as well.
“The thing about being a captain is people have to feel you as a captain, it’s not something you just say that I’m a captain or a leader,” Tuioti said in August. “They have to feel that you care about them and you’ve got to lead by example. He’s done that in a big way for us.”