April 6, 2020

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Diamond In The Rough: John McDaniel


John McDaniel is a 6’2 200 pound quarterback out of Denham Springs, Louisiana. The well rounded quarterback has all of the attributes you could wish for. Arm strength, maneuverability in the pocket, vision, the ability to throw on the run, and the ability to escape the pocket and gain extra yards up the field. McDaniel is a do it all quarterback. Along with his physical accolades, McDaniel has also shown his mental prowess is next to none. McDaniel picks apart defenses with a quick zip on the ball. Short, intermediate, or downfield, McDaniel will put the ball in the breadbasket of the receiver wherever that may be on the field. Owning the title of a natural born leader, McDaniel has formed countless interpersonal relationships with his coaches, training staff and teammates in becoming the conductor of this Denham Springs football team. McDaniel looks forward to becoming the varsity starter as well the challenge of bringing home the state title this year. With a 3.8 GPA and a 26 on the ACT, the sky’s the limit for this young man.

Take me through the beginning of your football career and how you assumed the quarterback position ? – I started playing football when I was in fourth grade and at the time I was living in Kansas. I went on to play center all throughout 6th grade. I then moved to Arkansas with my family where I had the opportunity to win the starting job at quarterback. I battled it out with about 30 kids which eventually was narrowed down to two which was me and some other kid. I didn’t start out right away but about four games into the season I took over the starting role. Then in the 9th grade I moved here and took the freshman starting job at Denham and the rest is history. 

Explain to me your development as a quarterback from 9th grade to now? – As a freshman I had a slow throwing mechanic issue where I would dip my elbow, but I’ve been working with my coach just about everyday for about a year now working on those mechanics and learning how to read defenses. My teammates have also had a big impact on my development. Their skill set has made it easier for me to just focus on my position and get them the ball. Having good players and coaches around you definitely alleviates stress.

So you mentioned some coaches that you’ve been close with. Who are those coaches and how have they impacted your development as a player- Bill Conides is one. Like I said he’s really helped me out figuring out defenses and my throwing mechanics. Another coach, my quarterbacks coach Garret Pinciotti is a great coach. He helps me so much on mechanics, defenses, but most importantly footwork. He always tells me: “quick feet means good things are going to happen”. 

As a rising senior and as obviously as the leader of the team, take me through your mental processes on adopting that leadership position? – Being the quarterback of a 5A football team with lots of guys looking up to you can be a lot of weight on your shoulders. You have to deal with that in a way that brings others up…not the opposite. That being said I enjoy being a leader. I see myself as a natural born leader. So when you are a leader you have to step up. You have to take ownership of the program. You have to lay down a foundation of what you want done from the beginning. If you can do that, guys will follow. I kinda model my leadership after Joe Burrow. Obviously you see what he did this season and how his guys rallied around him. That is what I strive for with my team. 

You mentioned you see yourself as a natural born leader. Was there a moment during your adolescence or boyhood where you realized: “I am meant to lead” : Well I feel I’ve always been a leader. In the classroom and in the community. People have a tendency to follow me and my presence. I feel like I can be that person to bring others up and lead them in the right direction. It’s just something that I’ve always had.

What does your training regiment look like as of right now due to the virus? – Yeah, so the virus has kinda thrown a wrench in our training program. As of right now I’ve just been staying home and doing a lot of push ups, running around the neighborhood, continuing to work on my footwork, and throwing the ball. I mean as long as you can maintain that level of fitness and alertness you’ll be fine. But on a regular training day, I work on footwork, mechanics, defense reading, and conditioning. Sometimes I’ll even do some crossfit with my coaches. Overall I just make sure I can last four quarters and put my team in the best position to win. 

Where would you say your best strengths are as a quarterback? – Understanding defenses, and being able to handle pressure. Pressure doesn’t really affect me all that much. In fact I believe that the higher the pressure, the better I perform. I thrive in intense moments.

Can you describe to me a moment where you were under immense pressure and you came out of the game victorious? – This past season we were playing Lee High and we had been up. It was the fourth quarter and I threw a pass that looked like a touchdown but my receiver fumbled it into the endzone resulting in a touchback. After that play, my team started to get kinda down and started to believe we were going to lose. Well later on towards the game there was 20 seconds left. We were driving into their territory just past the 50 and I dropped back, rolled out and ended up throwing a game winning touchdown pass to my teammate Tarrel Roberts to end the game. That was just one of the many moments where I felt I didn’t succumb to the pressure. I had to remain calm and level which I did and came out with the victory. 

How do you keep such a level head during such immense pressure? Do you have a pregame ritual or something of the sorts? – Certainly I like to look over the playcall. The “script” if you will. In regards to pregame rituals I don’t really have one. I don’t even listen to music. I just don’t like it that much. I tend to just look in and out of space and concentrate on the game ahead. I run through the scenarios and play them over and over in my head. That way when I get into a game, I won’t have anything that will surprise me. 

If you were to describe yourself to a GM or a scout, how would you describe yourself in ten words or less? – Great leader. Coachable. Always on time. Willing to work. Great passer. Great teammate. High football IQ.

What is one part of your game that you would like to improve on or are working to perfect? – My feet. My feet sometimes get slow and I kind’ve lag. The faster I can get my feet to where I’m supposed to be throwing and the faster my drops are, the quicker I’m going to be able to adapt and read the defense as well as reading my receivers and getting them the ball.

I was watching your film and was very impressed by your arm strength. What’s the farthest pass you’ve thrown in a game? – Well my longest was a 90 yard touchdown. But most of those yards were picked up by the receiver. My ball really didn’t get too much air on it but my receiver made it look good for sure. 

How much of your success would you attribute to your receivers? – A lot. You know it’s not only the receivers but my teammates as well. I’m just really looking forward to this upcoming season so that we can all share that happiness of winning a state championship together.  

It seems like you guys are stacked and have a good bit of seniority on the team especially with you at the helm. What are you most looking forward to this upcoming season with all this experience? – I have three major goals that I want the team to accomplish. 1 Win district. 2. Make it past the first round of the playoffs. 3. Beat our rivals. We haven’t really beat them in the past years and I’m itching to get them back.

If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing before you started playing football what would it be? – Have fun. Man it goes by so fast. 

What are your goals leaving high school and heading into college academically? – I definitely want to enter college and pursue a degree in business. Hopefully get my bachelors and one day get my masters in business. 

Is there a specific realm of business you want to enter? – Well I really enjoy stocks. The constant fluctuation due the circumstances globally really interests me. Obviously I’m not of age right now but once I do become of age I will start investing.