By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– The journey of Jerry Daniels to Signing Day 2018 has been an interesting one.
Growing up in a military household where his father is a part of the Army has taken him to a few locations during his life, but the last four-years Daniels has called the little city along Highway 22 in the State of Oregon in Stayton home.
Through the ups-and-downs, Daniels has enjoyed every moment of it as he sits at table draped in the dark blue with the white lettering on it of ‘Stayton High School’.
“It’s been enjoyable, it’s been a lot of ups-and-downs,” said Daniels. “I’ve enjoyed every moment. Moving place-to-place, nine or ten times and finding a home and staying there and now being able to find a new spot again and making an impact in that area.”
As the ceremony began with a few of his friends and a few of his basketball teammates in the Stayton High School library, Coach Randy Nyquist spoke highly to the character of Daniels. His leadership and his humble character even though Nyquist has only spent one season with the senior.
This is what Nyquist said of Jerry of the person he is and how much this past season not just hurt Jerry emotionally, but everyone in the program:
“Well, really need because he’s a very good athlete, he’s a really good football player, but he’s a even better person,” said Nyquist. “He’s an incredible young man. It was a hard-year because we knew how talented he was and we know how important his play was to our success of our football team, and I can only imagine where we would have been and what we’ve been doing if we would have lost Jerry in the first season league game. So that was a hard thing for everybody because we were dependent on Jerry and we knew he was a returning the Most Valuable Player of that league on both sides of the ball and he was going to do some great stuff.
“So, to lose that is really, really tough. But the way he stuck around and encourage his teammates and was just a really good person about it and I just love my relationship with what I have with him. He comes in everyday and we talk, talk about what’s going on and what his challenges are and what he wants to do and what his goals are. It’s just been a pleasure to coach him and he’s a neat, neat young man that’s going to do some neat things.”
As his parents sat next to Daniels, his dad to his right, the viewing side’s left. His mom to his left, the viewing side’s right, the both took turns talking about their son even though Daniels was trying to keep his composure of the pride from the words his parents were saying about him, Jerry Daniels knew his parents mean a lot to him.
“Honestly without my parents, I would not be here. I wouldn’t be the person that I am,” said Daniels on his parents. “My dad’s my role model, my mom’s my angel when I need guidance. My dad, he’s the person who’s real with me, tells me what I need to do and what not to do.
“Without those guys, then I would be a wreck.”
His senior year was plagued by injury and Jerry knows that right now it still bothers him with a twinge here and a twinge there, but knows his basketball team needs him now and that he can worry about strengthening his ankle when he hits the weights hard in order to prepare his body and mind for the next level.
As he signs his name on the dotted-line, Daniels recalls the special moment that convinced the Eagle Senior to join the Seniors of the College of the Siskiyou Eagles:
“The coach emailed me one day and he said ‘I’m willing to help you to get you back on your feet. Get that ankle back in shape and get you right back out there’,” said Daniels on the decision. “And that’s what I wanted. I didn’t want to hear about, ‘we’re interested in you’ and having the feeling of going to their college and then not being able to chance to play in a game and just be on the practice squad.”
When he finished and when there was a quick moment of pause, Nyquist spoke at the end of the ceremony about how Daniels has four months to add to his legacy at Stayton High School before he takes his talents to Weed, California, a roughly five hour and fifteen minute drive from Stayton, here by the end of the summer.
For Daniels, it goes back to what has already made him great:
“Honestly, I’m just going to be me,” said Daniels with an infectious smile. “I’m not trying to sound cocky or anything, but I like being social and people come to me and talk to me and they just love being around me and that’s what I like.
“I like being social, being in a positive environment of friends and family members. The more that kids come to me, the more that I will become a positive role models to them and the more I will actually work on having an impact on their lives.”
There is no doubt in the world that Daniels will leave his impact at the College of the Siskiyou’s as he has at Stayton as an individual off-the-field as he’s going to do on the field.
And there is no doubt too that he’ll dominate on the gridiron as well.
“What I’m going to do and here’s what I’m going to do,” starts Daniels. “After basketball season, I’m going to get into the gym. I’m going to gain as much muscle as I can, stay in shape and going to work on this ankle.
“And when I get done, I’m going to give everything that I have each day in practice and in a game and I’m going to push those guys whether they like me or they don’t.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald