Jeremy Pruitt grabbed another piece for his future secondary on Wednesday afternoon. 3-star safety Mordecai McDaniel out of Washington, D.C. announced his commitment to the Volunteers.
This was an interesting recruitment behind the scenes. Typically you hear more about a prospect when he has the type of offers McDaniel does. Before his commitment, McDaniel had a top-3 of Penn State, Tennessee, and Florida. None of those offers are “window dressing” either. All three teams were legitimately recruiting McDaniel, along with plenty of other Power-5 programs.
Instead, McDaniel sort of flew under the radar. Which also means most fans are unaware of what he brings to the table.
After watching his Hudl tape, I came to the conclusion that McDaniel is less of a football player at this point, and moreso an athlete.
What’s so intriguing about McDaniel is his raw potential. If recruits were ranked solely on that, he would probably be a top-150 player. He’s 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, and has a special combination of burst and speed. He’s also tough as nails and loves to get physical. His tape is full of kick and punt returns where he simply blows past defenders that don’t anticipate how quickly he reaches top speed. When he reaches that top speed, it’s over for them.
What his tape doesn’t show is impressive clips as a safety. That’s not his fault entirely—when you’re a raw player, you simply won’t have that many examples of you dominating from a position that requires seasoning. McDaniel is often times late to a play or does not recognize what the offense is doing until they’re already at the second level. That being said, when he actually gets to the ball carrier, they stop dead in their tracks.
McDaniel seems like the type of player that could turn into a first round draft pick if he takes well to Pruitt’s coaching. If Pruitt can have Alontae Taylor and Bryce Thompson starting at cornerback after one offseason, it will be exciting to see what he can do for McDaniel.
As a side note, McDaniel goes to the same high school as 5-star receiver Rakim Jarrett, who the Volunteers are still in contact with. Will it mean much? Maybe not, but if a late flip happens, chances are the McDaniel commitment has some influence.
McDaniel is the 15th commit of the class and fourth defensive back. He is the second highest ranked of that group, behind Keshawn Lawrence (who boasts a top-100 ranking).