QUAPAW — Years of hard work has paid off for Quapaw’s Tanner Daniels.
The 6-2, 235-pound senior lineman signed to play football at Northeastern A&M during an assembly at the high school Tuesday morning.
“I felt it would be a good opportunity for me in general,” Daniels said. “It will give me a lot of opportunities to be able to my education, but also to further my athletic career, to be able to get myself going in the right direction.”
Daniels is among 43 student-athletes — and seven defensive linemen — that signed with the Golden Norse on Feb. 4.
He had a chance to gain lots of exposure by playing in the Blue-Gray All American Bowl last month in Arlington, Texas.
Daniels had to advance through a regional qualifier in Tennessee, and then was picked to play in the game after placing among the leaders in a super combine at Arlington.
Daniels was one of 55 players on a team that was selected from more than 6,750 players who participated in combines from around the country or was recommended by staff members.
“I honestly think it helped me a lot, getting recognized at least by NEO,” Daniels said. “Coming from a small school, its hard to get recognized and get the recognition that you deserve, in my opinion.
“But with hard work and dedication, you can get that.”
The Quapaw coaching staff moved Daniels from linebacker to a down lineman prior to last season.
The move paid off: he was honored as one of the top defensive linemen in District A-6.
Head coach Chris Cawyer called Daniels a team leader who will be hard to replace.
“Tanner has worked his tail off for the three years I’ve been here, being in the weight room,” Cawyer said. “You can hardly run him out He’s a great leader. He just does so many things. All the kids look up to him.”
This marks the second straight year a Wildcat lineman has signed to play college football.
Ty Earp was redshirted this past season at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for him.” Cawyer said. “A lot of people got to see him. It’s going to further his career.
“NEO it's a good spot for him to be in. After NEO, you never know what is going to happen. He can go D1 or D2 — he definitely will go somewhere.”
Seeing former Norse running back Darwin Thompson win a Super Bowl title with the Kansas City Chiefs gives Daniels a little extra motivation.
“That’s kinda cool seeing that he went to NEO as well,” Daniels said. “A lot of kids have gone to NEO and they've made it to those big moments like that, to the NFL. In Darwin’s case, it was the Super Bowl, and that’s a great opportunity, especially coming from where he came from.”
The Norse staff is looking at Daniels as a defensive end/linebacker hybrid.
He said he’s planning on being a history major with a physical education minor.