You don’t always find heartwarming news on the Twitter machine, but I stumbled across a feel-good moment Wednesday.
It was a short video, about 15 seconds. It was former University of Charleston football players Kahzin Daniels standing in front of his locker talking to reporters.
He was talking to reporters because he had just been moved from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad to the 53-man active roster.
“It means the world,” he said in the video. “A lot of hard work has gone into where I am. I just know there’s a lot of hard work to go. I’m not where I want to be yet, so we’ll just keep working and continue to attack every day the same. Come into work every day.”
This is awesome for a couple of reasons. One, Daniels’ path to this point wasn’t easy. He came to Tampa Bay as an undrafted free agent, injured his knee in August, was waived with an injury designation after that, then signed to the practice squad in October.
All this while playing football at the highest level with one eye. A childhood accident left him blind in his right eye, though that didn’t stop him from racking up 34.5 sacks during his Golden Eagle career.
Regardless of all that, here he is, about to pull an NFL jersey over his shoulder pads on Sunday and wait for the call to take the field. (And don’t be surprised if he at least gets in on special teams. The guy hits like a freight train, which is perfect for the kickoff team.)
It’s a testament to his hard work, his will and his ability.
Second, Daniels’ ascension to the Bucs’ active roster makes for two former UC football players from the same draft class on active NFL rosters at the same time. Former teammate John Cominsky was a fourth-round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons and the defensive lineman has six tackles in his rookie campaign. Division II players making NFL rosters isn’t too common. Two from the same draft class at the same school? Forget about it.
Yet Cominsky and Daniels are showing what can be done, even from a Division II program nestled in West Virginia’s state capital.
Now add to that former West Virginia State linebacker Dennis Gardeck, now in his second season with the Arizona Cardinals. Gardeck, who finished his career at the University of Sioux Falls, also went the undrafted free agent route and made his mark in Arizona on special teams. He played the second-most special teams snaps of any NFL rookie in 2018.
And that’s the lesson for any player at any school, be it a Football Bowl Subdivision powerhouse or a small school in the Kanawha Valley. Sure it helps to have the FBS pedigree, and having an NFL body is important. But if you are willing to sprint down the field and hit someone, plenty of teams will be willing to find a spot for you. The work guys like Daniels, Cominsky and Gardeck put in as college players tucked away from the spotlight now have all of them on the largest stage of their sport in the world.
Hopefully, the next time any of them pop up on Twitter, the video will be of their game highlights.