T.J. Daniel

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Having a Heisman-hopeful, such as quarterback Marcus Mariota, is always exciting for a team. However, the timeless saying “Defense wins Championships” has been proven correct time and time again. With that being said, the Duck defense — which is arguably the best it has been since the departure of Defensive Coordinator Nick Alliotti – is possibly what could finally land …

#45 – T.J. Daniel


Oregon tight end T.J. Daniel, a sophomore fromBishop O’Dowd High School (Oakland, California), enters his second season in the Oregon program.

Before joining the Ducks, Daniel was a two-year varsity letterer for head coach Hardy Nickerson, a former NFL All-Pro linebacker, while staring on both offense and defense. Daniel finished his junior season with 25 tackles, 4.5 sacks and six catches for 89 yards plus one touchdown. As a senior, Daniel recorded 63 tackles, 7.5 sacks and 28 receptions for 437 yards and nine touchdowns.

Scout ranked Daniel as a three-star and the No. 104 DE prospect from the 2012 class. This is the scouting report they posted on Daniel:

“Daniel is just an ok route-runner, and has some moments where he pinches his route off too soon and the quarterback can’t get it to him. But when he is in the right area, he catches everything thrown to him. He’s got good speed and very soft hands. Dennis is still on the raw side, but his upside is high.” -Brandon Huffman

Rivals and ESPN also listed the versatile Daniel as a three-star. Rivals went as far as to call Daniel the No. 45 DE in the country, the highest praise of the three sites.

In 2012, Daniel appeared in nine games for the Ducks particularly on special teams. He finished the season with two assisted tackles, one against Arizona and one against Arizona State. Daniel saw action in nine of the team’s first 10 games with the one absence in week two against Fresno State. Daniel did not play in the team’s final three games.

Going into the 2013 season, Daniel will be in a battle for the back-up tight end job behind superstar Colt Lyerla. After Lyerla there is a logjam of talent with Daniel, Koa Ka’ai, Pharaoh Brown and Evan Baylis.

Brown and Ka’ai figure to have the edge for the job, so it’s likely Daniel will see most of his action next season during special teams. Daniel may see time at linebacker as well, considering 3-of-4 starters from the position are now on NFL rosters and there will be more availability for playing time.