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college football Bethel’s Daniels leading the charge for Stony Brook football team

September 19, 2018

Stony Brook University football coach Chuck Priore vividly reacalls the first time he saw strapping tight end Cal Daniels of Bethel High School in action — seriously, how could he forget it?

“He came to our camp here,” Priore remembered. “He performed very well and was very physical, so we offered him a scholarship.”

Rest assured, in the years that have followed, Daniels has earned that scholarship.

The 6-foot-2, 255-pound senior captain has helped lead the Seawolves to back-to-back wins over Bryant and Fordham after a Week 1 loss to Air Force. Last year, Daniels started all 13 games, caught 27 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns and was named first-team STATS FCS All-American as a fullback. With his skills, Daniels is a dangerous offensive weapon regardless of where he lines up, whether at tight end, fullback or even at wide receiver.

Perhaps what makes him most effective, however, is his attention to detail.

“Everything he does, he does it full-speed, whether it’s in the weight room, on the football field or in his preparation, which shows great leadership,” Priore said. “He loves to practice, which a lot of kids don’t like doing. He loves the sport, so he loves practice, and he gets better because of that. And the thing that has impressed me the most is that he has a football savvy. He understands the game very, very well.”

Perhaps it was during his years as a multi-sport athlete at Bethel High School that helped cultivate Daniels’ work ethic and leadership skills.

“Bethel’s awesome. Bethel is the best,” said Daniels, a 2014 Bethel High graduate who stood out in basketball, track and field and tennis in addition to being a two-time All-State football player. “At Bethel, we maybe had 40 or 50 kids on the varsity roster, so every day of the week was full pads. Maybe we didn’t have the size and the speed that some of the bigger schools had, but every day of the week we had to work. We weren’t going to beat teams over the top. We ran the triple option, so we had to be tougher. We had to be there in the fourth quarter of every game. If nothing else, it teaches you about grit.”

His senior football season at Bethel High, the Wildcats lost their first two games before winning nine straight to qualify for the Class M state playoffs.

“That was a credit to him and the entire team, but I know that his leadership influenced a lot of kids,” Bethel coach Jason Gill said. “You could always count on him to get the job done. If we weren’t having a good practice, he’d be the first one to try and turn it around.”

Coincidentally, Daniels’ senior season at Stony Brook began much the same as his senior year at Bethel. The Seawolves opened with a 38-0 loss to Air Force in Colorado Springs. It was the kind of loss that could have derailed the whole season, but rather than pack it in, the Seawolves dug in, buckled down and bounced back with a 50-21 home win over Bryant the following week and a 28-6 win over Fordham on Saturday in the Bronx.

“That’s part of the game, and that’s part of life, too, I guess. You’re going to have days when nothing goes right,” said Daniels, whose father, Scott, was named to UConn football’s 100th anniversary team in 1998. “The Bryant game was good for us to see some success in areas we thought we should have against Air Force. Things went our way against Bryant, but we still had a lot of mistakes that we’ll need to fix if we want to have success later on in the season.”

In three games this year, Daniels has four catches for 65 yards. More important than the statistics, however, are the impact plays that don’t show up in the box score or on the highlight reel, like a critical blitz pickup or standing up a linebacker on a first-down run.

“It’s pretty cool that guys on the team see me as a captain and someone they want to model themselves after,” Daniels said. “When I was younger, I looked at the captains and their work ethic, and I watched them do extra things and do a lot of the stuff that not the average player does. I want to model my game after them and model myself after the players they were.”

Now, that’s a captain.

rgregory@newstimes.com; Twitter @DanburySports

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