BYU defensive back Robertson Daniel will be starting field corner for the opening game vs. Virginia on Saturday. Chances are that just a few weeks ago you may not have ever even heard Daniel's name. His journey to Division I football may be far from the norm, but come Saturday he will have the opportunity to prove he can make the kind of impact the the depleted Cougar secondary desperately needs.
Daniel's Journey to BYU
Daniel played high school football at Brenham High School in San Jose, California. While at Brenham, Daniel drew interest from several Division I programs including San Jose State and San Diego State. After a dispute with his high school coach, Daniel decided to sit out the last half of his senior year and ended up attending De Anza College out of high school.
At De Anza, Daniel quickly earned a reputation as a ball-hawking safety/defensive back recording six interceptions and 90 tackles. As a freshman, he was awarded team MVP and named a junior college All-American by Scout.com. Following his impressive freshman season, Daniel decided to put his promising junior college career on hold and focused solely on his academics in 2012.
Daniel arrived at BYU in late June of 2013 without the pomp and circumstance that accompanied the rest of the 2013 recruiting class that signed earlier in the year. BYU had been in contact with Daniel for some time, but did not offer him a scholarship until Trent Trammell, a projected starter at the boundary corner, went down with a season ending ACL injury in spring practice.
How He Became Starter
BYU's secondary suffered another devastating blow when starting field corner, Jordan Johnson, tore his ACL in fall camp. Johnson was a player many believed BYU could not lose and his loss left a gaping hole the Cougars needed filled. Daniel was given the first opportunity to fill that spot and through the rest of fall practices has earned the chance to start Saturday.
It's difficult to know where to set expectations for Daniel. When he steps on the field in Charlottesville Saturday, it will be the first time he has played in a football game in nearly twenty months. He has shown potential to be a game changer in the junior college ranks, but can he have a similar impact when the level of competition is ratcheted up a few notches? BYU could really use a playmaker at Daniel's position and if the new cornerback could put up half the numbers he did in junior college he'd be very welcome in Provo.
How Will He Perform?
We will have to wait and see if Daniel turns out to be a recruiting gem who flew under the radar or just a mediocre prospect who was the beneficiary of BYU's desperate situation. Either way Daniel will get a lot of time on the field for the Cougars this season, so make sure to keep an eye on Daniel, because he just may surprise us all.