B.J. Daniel celebrated his birthday Monday (Feb. 10).
The Cannon County football standout received an early present when he signed a National Letter of Intent (NIL) to play collegiately at Bethel University Friday (Feb. 7).
Daniel, the son of Bruce and Melodie Daniel, inked with the Wildcats during a signing ceremony at the CCHS Football Facility and will continue his career as a fullback at Bethel University.
“This is a special opportunity,” Daniel said. “This tells me if you work hard and stick with it you will have a chance to play college football if that’s what you want. If you work hard and keep your feet moving everything will be OK.”
Daniel capped a strong four-year career with a sterling senior season that saw him earn All-Region honors and become the first football player from Cannon County ever to be named to the Tennessee East-West All-Star game.
Although he made his name as a defensive stalwart for the Lions, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Daniel will play fullback for the Wildcats.
Bethel coach Ron Jankovich, who recruited Daniel, said the Wildcat staff believes the blue collar worker can be a dominating presence in the offensive backfield.
“With B.J.’s build and size we believe he can be a fullback who can go out there and punish some people,” Jankovich said. “We are so impressed by him. B.J. is a great defensive player and linebacker is obviously something he played very well. He played linebacker in the Tennessee East-West All-Star game so we know what he can do there. We believe he can also be a strong college fullback.”
During his prep career, Daniel proved his could run the football and block, as well; however, the fullback was not frequently used in the Lions’ offensive schemes.
“I believe when I get there and focus on one thing it will help me,” Daniel said. “I’m excited to have that opportunity. I’m excited to know they believe I can help them in that area. It kind of surprised me.”
Lions Head Coach T.J. Daniel, B.J.’s older brother, said the future Wildcat will do fine wherever he plays.
“Bethel is a good fit for B.J. and he is excited about it,” T.J. Daniel said. “I think B.J. will fill the part wherever they play. He just wants to play. This is a special time for him and for our program. Our goal is to prepare young men to have these type of opportunities.”
B.J. Daniel considered other schools and had additional offers; however, his heart was with Bethel.
“They stuck with me the whole time,” B.J. Daniel said. “They have been recruiting me since my junior year and they always stayed in touch. They never backed off. It just feels like home there. I can’t wait to get started.”
Daniel’s talent is strong. After all, he rushed for more than 400 yards and collected 187 total tackles (104 solo), had 32 tackles for loss and 16 sacks during his senior season.
Bethel liked him for much more.
“The biggest thing that caught my eye was what a great kid he is,” Jankovich said. “He is a shy kid and very respectful. We don’t just want football players at Bethel. Everyone signs football players. We want great kids in our program and B.J. is a great kid.”
Daniel said a solid foundation is something he takes to Bethel.
“I have loved playing football at Cannon County,” Daniel said. “It’s been great. To have a chance to play with one brother and have the other as my head coach was also special.”
He hopes to see Lions’ faithful supporting him at Bethel.
“I want to thank everyone who has supported me and helped make this possible,” Daniel said. “I am going to go to Bethel and work hard and represent Cannon County. I hope some people will come see me play at Bethel. Cannon County fans are the best and I thank all of them for the support.”