Spike Daniels

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Spike Daniels
refer to caption
Spike Daniels runs through a drill at the ISFL Combine ahead of the Season 31 Draft
No. 47 – Norfolk Seawolves
Position:Safety
Personal information
Born: (2023-09-18)September 18, 2023 (aged 24)
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Height:5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight:198 lb (90 kg)
Username:Michiganonymous
Career information
College:Northwestern
DSFL Draft:2045 / Round: 3 / Pick: 2
Career history
Roster status:Active

Spike Lewis Daniels (born September 18, 2023) is an American football safety for the Norfolk Seawolves in the DSFL. He played college football for Northwestern University. He was selected by Norfolk with the 2nd pick of the 3rd round in the 2045 DSFL Draft (18th overall). After his debut season in the DSFL he was selected by the Sarasota Sailfish in the 1st round (14th overall) of the 2046 ISFL Draft.

Early years

Spike Daniels was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the middle child and only son of Calvin Daniels and Marietta Jones-Daniels. He has an older sister, Jessica, and a younger sister, Cassie. Both of the Daniels parents are former college athletes (Calvin a golfer and Marietta a softball catcher) and while growing up all three Daniels siblings played youth sports in the Grand Rapids area.

Spike's affinity for football was noted early on. When he was barely a year old, his parents noticed that he was captivated by football games more than anything else on television. According to them, he would glare angrily at the screen whenever an offense was moving the ball, but giggle and clap at great defensive plays, especially forced fumbles. Although it seemed he was destined for a future tackling people, for health and safety reasons Calvin and Marietta would not allow their son to play organized football until high school. Kept out of football, Daniels played soccer in his elementary and junior high years. He also became an avid chess player at a young age, and credits the game for developing the focus and mental processing skills that have helped him succeed on the gridiron.

As a high school freshman, Daniels seized the opportunity to finally try out his favorite sport, and upon joining the football team he distinguished himself almost immediately. He played on both sides of the ball during his high school career, spending most of his time at linebacker, but also seeing snaps at defensive back, running back, and receiver. What he lacked in raw physical traits, he made up for through stubborn determination and a seemingly intuitive understanding of the game. He became known for his fearlessly physical play, aggressive tackling, and a knack for always knowing where the ball was headed. Daniels missed the latter half of his junior season with a broken collarbone, but still graduated with the school record for career interceptions.

College career

Undersized for his primary position of linebacker, and with no particular outstanding athletic traits, Daniels was scarcely recruited as a high school player. He did receive a football scholarship offer from FCS-level Indiana State, but at that time Daniels did not plan on a future in professional football and chose to focus on academics. On the strength of a 3.9 GPA and ACT score of 34, he received an academic scholarship to Northwestern, where he decided to try playing football as a walk-on. While a freshman, Daniels made the switch to playing safety full time when the coaching staff suggested it might be his most natural position. As a walk-on, he faced an uphill battle for practice reps and playing time, but by dedicating his gift of intense focus to a single position, he quickly improved his craft.

By the end of his sophomore year, he had shown enough in practice, on special teams, and in limited game time that the coaching staff elevated him to a starting role and made him a scholarship player for his junior and senior seasons. Daniels rewarded the coaching staff's confidence with a Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week performance in the first game of his junior season, recording eight tackles (two for loss) and a pick-six. This game was the beginning of his somewhat unusual trophy collection: he purchased the jersey of the opposing quarterback he had intercepted and nailed it to the wall of his dorm room. By the end of his Wildcat career, he had added 11 more jerseys for a total of 12, representing 8 career interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and a blocked punt.

Daniels majored in Economics with a minor in Data Science, and originally came to Northwestern intending to enter the Master's of Science in Analytics program. Following breakout performances in his junior and senior seasons of football, he placed his graduate school plans on hold in favor of preparing for the DSFL Draft and chasing a chance to nail some professional jerseys to his trophy wall.

College statistics

Northwestern statistics
Season Games Tck TFL FF/FR Sck Int PD Sfty TD Blk P/XP/FG
Soph. 2 4 0 0/0 0 0 1 0 0 0/0/0
Jr. 13 39 2 1/1 0 3 14 0 2 0/0/0
Sr. 13 48 3 2/0 1 5 11 0 1 1/0/0
Career 28 91 5 3/1 1 8 26 0 3 1/0/0
Pro day measurables
height weight 40 shuttle 3-cone vertical broad jump bench press
5' 10.1" 198 lbs. 4.59 4.65 7.62 24.9" 111.7" 14

Professional career

DSFL

Daniels recorded his first professional interception in Preseason Week 2 of DSFL Season 30, against the Dallas Birddogs. However, he chose not to nail up a Birddogs jersey, saying in a post-game interview, "It's always great to get a pick, but the preseason doesn't count."

Although his rookie season got off to a slow start, Daniels steadily improved throughout Season 30 and finished the season playing his best football. He recorded his first regular season interception against the Kansas City Coyotes in Norfolk's 30-23 Week 10 victory. Spike leaped in front of wide receiver Andy Fantuz at the 1-yard line and snatched quarterback Carter Knight's pass out of the air, preventing a Kansas City touchdown and returning the pick 45 yards to set up Norfolk with great field position following the turnover. He followed up that performance with his first career multi-turnover game in Week 11, when Spike picked off star London Royals quarterback Dustin Parmelee twice, including a pick with under a minute to play that sealed Norfolk's 27-17 victory. In Week 13, he made 7 tackles in a 33-27 overtime loss to the Tijuana Luchadores, setting a new single-game personal best.

The Sarasota Sailfish sent Daniels back down to Norfolk for Season 31. Losing just one player to the ISFL that off-season, the Seawolves were experienced and hungry for victories after finishing 3-11 in Season 30. Daniels was voted defensive captain by his teammates and matured into the leadership role, notably rallying the team's spirits with a locker room speech after an unexpected 1-3 start to the season. After that, Norfolk won their next 3 games and 8 of the next 10 to finish 9-5, clinching their first playoff appearance since Season 26 and first winning record since Season 24. Unfortunately, Daniels and the Seawolves came up just short of their championship goals, as the season ended with a heart-breaking 37-34 overtime playoff loss to eventual champions the Dallas Birddogs.

ISFL

The Sarasota Sailfish drafted Spike with the 14th and final pick of the 1st round in the Season 31 ISFL Draft. A few days prior to the draft, Daniels' camp had taken the risky step of leaking to the media that Sarasota was his preferred destination. Despite draft buzz that Yellowknife and Austin were interested, Spike got his wish and beamed as he donned a Sailfish hat and held up the jersey of the defending Ultimus champions on draft night. Daniels cited as his primary motivation the opportunity to be mentored by one of his football idols, star Sailfish safety Cuco Clemente.

Sarasota called Daniels up to the ISFL for Season 32, to replace the retired Brendan Lanier. The Sailfish ended up with no true strong safety on the roster, as Daniels and Clemente both preferred to play as roving free safeties, which provided Sarasota's defensive coordinator with a challenge to make the best use of both players and adequately counter opposing running games. Consequently the rookie made appearances in all 16 games, but was frequently benched in favor of playing an extra cornerback or linebacker. Daniels admitted in interviews that he sometimes found the reduced playing time frustrating, but always quickly added that he was happy to do whatever gave the team their best chance to win, and that his main goal for his rookie season was not to accumulate stats, but rather to learn as much as he possibly could. One teammate joked that they should call Daniels "The Remora" because he was always stuck to a Sailfish, watching veteran players and asking for pointers. None other than Cuco Clemente publicly praised the rookie's attitude and work ethic, which Spike later cited as the proudest moment of his rookie season.

Despite limited playing time, Spike did punctuate his rookie season with some noteworthy impact plays. In Week 1, he celebrated his ISFL debut with a punishing hit on Colorado Yeti wide receiver William Lim, forcing a fumble which he also recovered. The turnover came with the Sailfish down by two scores late in the 4th quarter and gave them a slim chance to win a game that had seemed out of reach, but they were unable to capitalize. In Week 2, Daniels continued his red-hot start, intercepting Baltimore Hawks QB Gimmy Jaroppolo Jr. in the 2nd quarter to make it two takeaways in two weeks, but the Sailfish would go on to lose that game as well. Sarasota introduced some formations that pushed Daniels close to the line of scrimmage as a strong safety, which paid off most spectacularly in Week 8 against the San Jose SaberCats, as Spike blew by the right tackle to sack QB Panda McKyle for a 7-yard loss and force a fumble, although McKyle was able to fall on it.

Professional statistics

DSFL

DSFL Career
Team DSFL Season Games Tck TFL FF/FR Sck Int PD Sfty TD Blk P/XP/FG
Norfolk Seawolves 30 14 50 0 0/0 0 4 11 0 0 0/0/0
Norfolk Seawolves 31 14 53 0 1/1 1 2 7 0 0 0/0/0
DSFL Career 28 103 0 1/1 1 6 18 0 0 0/0/0

ISFL

ISFL Combine Results
height weight Wonderlic 40 shuttle 3-cone vertical broad jump bench press
5' 10.1" 205 lbs. 40 4.52 4.59 7.58 25.3" 112.3" 18
ISFL Career
Team ISFL Season Games Starts Tck TFL FF/FR Sck Int PD Sfty TD Blk P/XP/FG
Sarasota Sailfish 32 16 6 14 0 2/1 2 1 4 0 0 0/0/0
ISFL Career 16 6 14 0 2/1 2 1 4 0 0 0/0/0

Achievements and records

College

Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week: 3 times

  • 2043 Season, Week 1
  • 2044 Season, Week 3
  • 2044 Season, Week 7

All-Big Ten Team: twice

  • 2043 2nd Team
  • 2044 1st Team

Academic All-American: 2043, 2044

Consensus 1st Team All-American: 2044

Burlsworth Trophy (most outstanding former walk-on): Winner, 2044

Jim Thorphe Award (top college defensive back): Finalist, 2044

William V. Campbell Trophy (the "academic Heisman"): Finalist, 2044

DSFL

DSFL Safety of the Year:

  • Finalist, Season 30


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