Freshman McDaniels promising quarterback for Hornets

Jack McDaniels

DOVER — Before Jack McDaniels even arrived full-time on campus, he had already endeared himself to the Delaware State University football coaching staff.

During the spring McDaniels was at every weekend practice Delaware State had. He would make the drive up from his high school in Lofton, Virginia at the end of each week.
Then there’s the whiteboard.

Coach Kenny Carter loves the whiteboard.

It sits above McDaniels’ bed in his dorm room. It contains notes on DelState’s offensive schemes, different plays and what McDaniels thinks he and the offense need to work on.
Like McDaniels, that wideboard was a constant fixture at practice in the spring.

It’s one of the reasons Carter was not afraid to name McDaniels the starting quarterback despite being a true freshman. It’s the first time in recent memory the Hornets have started a true freshman at quarterback in the first game of the season.

“We’ve got a freaking quarterback who is going to be special,” Carter said. “That’s the kind of guy he is. He’s got no habits. His habits are football.”

McDaniels made his Delaware State debut last Thursday in a 22-3 defeat to Delaware. He threw for 165 yards while completing 12-of-28 attempts.

McDaniels found out the day before the game he would be starting. He beat out sophomore Keenan Black for the starting job.

Jack McDaniels, #10 DSU, hands the ball off to Mike Waters, #25 DSU. (Special to the Delaware State News/Doug Curran)

He said he set a goal to be a starting quarterback in 2017 after he finished his final high school game last year. That’s what made him so committed to studying the Hornets during spring practice even though he wasn’t officially on the roster yet.

“I knew the quarterback job wasn’t wide open but I knew I had a shot at it,” McDaniels said. “So I came every weekend. Because of that I felt like I had a 100 percent understanding of the offense by the summer.”

As for the whiteboard, McDaniels says that’s just the type of player he is.

“I think of myself as a real cerebral guy,” McDaniels said.

And for a team which has gone through quarterback after quarterback the last few seasons, having someone who has the potential to be a four-year starter is a welcomed sight.

Delaware State has had five different quarterbacks start games in the three prior seasons. That’s one of the main reasons Carter recruited McDaniels so hard.

“Out of all my offers they showed they wanted me the most and said they needed me the most,” McDaniels said. “I really like our great coaching staff. Overall I thought I could come here, compete for the job early and help turn this program around.”

And Carter did not have any reservations when he gave the starting job to someone right out of high school.

“He might be a true freshman on paper but he doesn’t play like a true freshman,” Carter said. “He’s special. He has ‘it.’”

Delaware State hopes McDaniels can make another step forward in his short collegiate career this week. The Hornets travel to Hampton University on Friday night for an important early season MidEastern Athletic Conference matchup at 7 p.m.

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