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BJ Daniels hopes to be the next Antwaan Randle-El

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To most fans, preseason games lose their luster once the starters leave the field. This happens very quickly in the first two games.

Few are excited by watching backups trying to earn their way onto the 53-man roster. That is unfortunate because these are the guys going the extra mile in exhibition games.

Earlier this week, SaintPetersblog looked at former Seminole quarterback EJ Manuel and former Gator Tim Tebow.  Each is trying to find his rightful place with the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively.

A similar situation involves former University of South Florida Bull B.J. Daniels. He is trying to stay with the two-time defending National Football Conference (NFC) Champion Seattle Seahawks.

Daniels is trying to do something few have ever done. The former Bulls quarterback is attempting to remain in Seattle by making the difficult switch from quarterback to wide receiver.

After a stellar career at USF, Daniels was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh round of the 2013 draft as a double-threat quarterback. Coach Jim Harbaugh was intrigued with the career numbers of Daniels and how he amassed them.

During his time in Tampa, the Tallahassee (Lincoln) native passed for 8,433 yards and 52 touchdowns, while rushing for 2,068 yards and 25 TDs. The latter is a USF team record.

Following his release by the 49ers early into the 2013 season, Seattle claimed Daniels and primarily used him as a practice squad quarterback in 2013, then as a scout team utility player. One practice would see him serving as a kick returner, another as a wide receiver or running back, and yet another as a quarterback.

The odds of Daniels making it as a wide receiver are said to be “long.” Despite such odds, Coach Pete Carroll likes what he sees so far.

“He’s competitive; he’s really good with the ball after the catch,” Carroll told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “Very aggressive, catches the ball really well, and he can throw it if he has to.”

If Daniels is looking for someone to emulate, there is no one better than Antwaan Randle-El. AR-E is the gold standard for former quarterbacks making a successful transition from pitching to catching.

Randle-El was a quarterback at Indiana University from 1999-2002. Like Daniels, he is 5′ 11″ tall and possessed the quickness to keep defenses off balance.

In four seasons, Randle-El amassed 11,364 total rushing and passing yards, to 10,501 for Daniels. The Hoosier quarterback ran for and threw for 92 total touchdowns to Daniels’ 77.

Ironically, Daniels was initially recruited by Indiana, according to his father, Bruce. For whatever reason, IU went another direction.

Both are gifted athletes. Randle-El played one season of college basketball at Indiana, while Daniels did the same at USF.

Despite these numbers, Randle-El was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round of the 2002 draft as a wide receiver. No doubt being 5’ 11” had something to do with that.

Daniels may also try to double as a kick returner. Good idea. During his seven-year NFL career, Randle-El caught 17 touchdowns and ran back six punts one kickoff for touchdowns. In 2005, he was a first team All-Pro as a special teams player.

In Super Bowl XL, Randle-El became the only wide receiver in Super Bowl history to throw a touchdown pass. That famous toss to Hines Ward came against the Seahawks.

If Daniels is looking for a role model, he now has one to call upon. Like Randle-El, Daniels has the physical talent to make the switch, but a chat with someone who’s been there, done that would only help.

Daniels is a quality person, raised right with two great parents, and has the mental toughness to pull this off. These factors and good fortune will come in handy with nine receivers currently in camp.

The quest begins in earnest as the Seahawks take on the Denver Broncos on Friday night at 10 p.m. EDT. Hopefully, the next Antwaan Randle-El is on the way.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at [email protected]

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