The signing of Darrion Daniels was one of the reasons Oklahoma State finished its Class of 2015 strong. The four-star defensive tackle picked the Cowboys over Baylor, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas and others.
Before he headed to campus for summer workouts, Daniels took time to chat with ESPN.com about what he liked about OSU, being a leader and his short and long term goals:
When you look toward this summer what things do you want to improve?
Darrion Daniels: My core. I have a pretty good build as a lineman, big and quick. But I know in order to be a better player I really need to work on my core.
Ideally what will your role be as a freshman?
Daniels: My goal is to make an immediate impact, come in early and do what I can. I know I’m like any freshman that’s going to come in, take their lumps, I’m not going to come in and be a showstopper. My job, for the older guys on the line, is to come in and make their jobs a lot easier. Like Emmanuel Ogbah, I want to be able to go in and take a lot of pressure off of him, so my freshman year just come in and take attention off the regular linemen we have so they can make more plays.
How much have you thought about the chance to play with guys like Ogbah?
Daniels: I think I’m going to learn a lot from them. From watching them play, the Oklahoma State defensive line is really slept on because they’re really young. It’s like they’re a young line so they aren’t going to be that good but those young boys are growing up and I think it’s going to help me when I get to their age.
What did the defensive coaches tell you in terms of what they want?
Daniels: Pretty much what they said is they want me to be an immediate impact. Coach (Glenn) Spencer likes the way I lead and he hopes to put me in with the big guys so when I do get older people can look at me as the leader.
Is that something you want to do, not necessarily as a freshman, but emerge as a leader on the defense?
Daniels: Yes sir. But not just the defense, defense and offense. I want to be one of those dudes, when the team is down in the fourth quarter and the offense is on the field, they know for a fact they can trust in me if they don’t score. And not just me, but the entire defense, me leading the defense and doing great things.
How much did you see OSU last year?
Daniels: I went to the season opener in Dallas. They played Florida State. At the time, my recruiting was wide open. Coach (Tim) Duffie told me to come to the game, it was a real good game. Everyone was like “They’re going to whip up on Oklahoma State, they’re going to do this and that” but I just wanted it to be a good game. When I saw what was happening like was like, ‘These young boys got some fight in them. These young boys are going to get older and they’ll be the ones giving these whuppins.” That opened my eyes. I remember watching the Oklahoma State-OU game. Oklahoma State was the underdog, not many people thought they were going to win. When I watched them win that game and how hard they had to fight to win. I was like “Yeah”. I know for a fact, with or without me, they have a great future. I just want to be with them when they rise to the top.
How much did being able to play in the Big 12 play a factor?
Daniels: Big 12 is serious football, it’s slept on a lot. The Pac 12 is all flash, the SEC is all dirt, but I honestly think the Big 12 is the toughest football. It’s the conference to be in if you want to be a great football player. I know if I’m not well prepared going into next season, I’m going to get worked. That’s why I want to be in the best condition possible to give it a run with the big dogs. It makes me anxious to get out there.
What are your freshman goals? Long-term goals?
Daniels: God’s will I’d come in and start or get a lot of playing time. I want to be the Big 12 freshman of the year, that’s something I want to do. I was talking to my pops and he believes I can do anything I put my mind to and he told me “You have to think aout it though. You have Malik Jefferson at UT (Texas), you have this guy, that guy. These dudes are out there working and they’re hungry.” It puts pressure on me because it’s my goal. But even if I don’t get my goal and I’m in the running for it, I’ll still be thankful. Long term goal, I want to win a championship. First two years, a Big 12 championship. By the fifth year, I want to be in a national championship. Like I said we have a young team and that young team is going to get bigger, going to get better. That is the long term goal: Win a national championship at Oklahoma State.