Q&A with Derrell Daniels
Sept. 19, 2000
How have you been able to be successful this year?
Daniels: "I have to give a lot of credit to my defensive line, because they play hard and keep the offensive linemen off of me. Guys like Larry Tripplett, Ryan Julian and Ossim Hatem -- they play hard every down, and take up two linemen most of the time. That way a lot of the linemen focus on them, instead of coming off and blocking me. When they are playing hard up front, that just makes my job easier, playing hard behind them."
What does having a bye week mean to the team?
Daniels: "It gives us a chance to lay back and enjoy the victory for a few extra days, but at the same time, we still get to work on Oregon, our upcoming opponent. It gives us an extra week to prepare for them because they are going to be a tough team."
What are your thoughts on the season so far?
Daniels: "Offensively, we have played well. Defensively, we have played well. And special teams, we have played well. It's just great to feel that we are 3-0. It is the first time I've been 3-0 since I have been here. It feels good right now just to know that the whole team is playing hard and playing together."
Is there any pressure being 3-0 not to have a letdown, especially after having three big games?
Daniels: "I don't think so. Football is football. You have to practice hard if you want to play hard. Whether you are 3-0 or 0-3, you are still going to practice hard. If you practice hard, then you are going to play hard on Saturday. If you play hard on Saturday, most of the time, that translates into a victory.
"I think this team has a lot of experience with (letdowns) because last year we played big games and then we had letdowns the next week. As far as this year is concerned, we played Miami and beat them, then we practiced hard all week for Colorado to make sure we didn't have a letdown against them and we didn't. We came out playing against Colorado, and we beat them. They are a good team also. We have Oregon coming up and they are a good team. If we come out and practice hard like we did for Colorado, the fear of a letdown should not even be a factor."
Being from California, why did you choose to come to the University of Washington?
Daniels: "When I was going through the recruiting process, my high school coach said to go someplace where I could play, go someplace where I could get a good education and also go to a place where I could see myself living for the next four or five years. And when I took all the trips, UW seemed the best fit for all of those categories. I was behind a senior and a junior, so I knew I would be getting playing time pretty early in my career. The school is one of the top 20 public universities in the country, so obviously you are going to get a good education here. And the city of Seattle is just a great place to live. You have all of the pro teams here--the Seahawks, the Mariners, and the Sonics. The fans here are great. They come out and support us all the time. We have more season ticket holders than all three pro teams. That is another reason why I chose to come here--the fan support is so great. People just come up to you and say "good job" and a lot of times, they don't even know who you are, they just love Husky football that much."
What is it like playing when the crowd is so loud, the opponent can't even hear the snap count?
Daniels: "It is a great feeling. Because sometimes, being on the defensive side of the ball, the crowd gets so hyped up for us, that I can't even hear myself call a huddle. Sometimes I am just looking at the DBs giving them the signals, because they can't hear me call the play. That is a great feeling too, because we know that if we can't hear ourselves, then obviously the opposing team's offense can't hear themselves. When the quarterback makes changes, the o-line can't hear him, so it just makes it that much more of an advantage for us.
"Each seat is filled up every time we come to play. That's the best part about it. You come here on any given Saturday and there will hardly be any empty seats at Husky Stadium. It is one of the best things to play here, just knowing that all 70,000 people are here just rooting for you."
What is the best/worst part about your position, inside linebacker?
Daniels: "The best part about my position is the fact that I am involved in every play. Especially being on the inside, it is easier for me to go from sideline to sideline with the ball or the ball carrier. That's what I like, just being by the ball and being a part of the action on every single down. The worst part is probably the physical beating I take every day. Sometimes I am going against linemen that are 300 to 350 pounds, and I am going in at about 220. It does hurt giving up about 90 pounds to them all the time, but when you make a play, all of that just offsets itself."
Do you have any pre-game rituals?
Daniels: "My pre-game actually starts on Friday night. I don't know why, but I have a habit--when we get up to the hotel room, I like to look out the window. When we are here, I like to watch all the cars driving by on the freeway. When we go on the road, I like to watch whatever is outside the window, just stare it at for five minutes, just to see where I am at and take it all in for a little bit. I also take a little dose of NyQuil to help me sleep better. Then on game day, I like to hum to myself in the locker room."
What do you hum?
Daniels: "Whatever pops into my head. Sometimes it will be one of the newer songs out, and sometimes it will be a song that came out when I was in seventh grade. It is something different every day."
What do you do after a game to wind down?
Daniels: "First, I go back to the locker room, sit in my locker and let all the sweat drip down my face. Just let it dry off. I like to just sit there for a while, before I go take a shower and get dressed. By the time I get done, every one is pretty much gone, so I just sit down in my locker and think about the game, what went well, how I played, and how the team played. Then I go home, sit on my couch and watch "SportsCenter" to see the big plays. To see Michael Vick have a 60-yard run, or whoever get an interception and run it in for a touchdown. I don't watch to see who beat who, but to see how the big name people did in the day's games."
What are your plans for your life after football is over?
Daniels: "I want to own my own business. I don't know exactly what yet, but I want to get into something where I am my own boss and where I can do things on my own time, and work my own hours. I just want to be at the point where I don't really have to be on someone else's schedule and wait on them and take orders from them."
What is your favorite movie and why?
Daniels: "I am torn between "Bad Boys" and "Nothing to Lose." I like both of those movies because Martin Lawrence is in them and I like Martin Lawrence. He is just one of the funniest guys I have ever seen on TV."
What CDs might someone find in your car right now?
Daniels: "Probably the Ice Cube cd, Dr Dre, pretty much anything from the West coast, you will find in there. You will find a couple of slow jazz also. Something like KCi & JoJo, 112, Mary J. Blige, people like that are in there too."
What is your favorite color?
Daniels:(chuckles) "Purple. I had always liked purple when I was younger, and I got here and it happens to be one of our main colors, so I had to keep it as my favorite. Plus, when I was in junior high, I heard purple was the color of royalty."
What is the best thing about Seattle? How is it different from San Fernando, California where you are from?
Daniels: "The best thing about Seattle is the scenery, you have trees and the water. On a sunny day, you can go on top of a high building, and see people out there on the water having fun. That is the best thing about Seattle, knowing that there are all kinds of things to do outdoors here.
"The biggest difference between Seattle and where I am from, San Fernando, is, number one, it rains a whole lot more here and it is a whole lot colder here. In San Fernando, we only have about 30 days of the year, when it is not sunny. That is one big difference. Another is how friendly people are here. Here, you can just be walking down the street and people will say "Hi, how are you doing," just being friendly with you. Back home, you walk down the street and that's it. You are just someone walking down the street.
"I love my hometown of San Fernando. Any chance I get I want to give it praise because it is not very big and a lot of people wouldn't know about it otherwise. It is weird, being in a big place like Seattle, but it is fun because there is a whole lot more to do. Back in San Fernando, on an average Friday or Saturday night, people would drive up and down the street, that is what everyone did. The streets would be packed but no one would really be doing anything. We would just chill out on the corner and talk to each other. But out here, there is actually something to do. You can go to Gameworks, or you can go to a movie, or you can go to a party if there is one. There is a lot more to do here."
Who is your favorite professional athlete or team and why?
Daniels: "I was a big Barry Sanders fan, because just to watch him run was amazing. He would do all kinds of things that no one else in the NFL could really do. Just to watch him run was fun. I was also a big Dan Marino fan, I don't really know why though. Right now, I am a big Shaquille O'Neal fan because he brought a championship back to Los Angeles, and I am Lakers fan. I also like the Orlando Magic, the Miami Heat and Portland (Trailblazers), because they are good. I like to watch them play too."
What is your favorite sport to watch?
Daniels: "Basketball. Because I play football every day of my life, sometimes I really don't feel like watching it."
What is your typical night out like?
Daniels: "Most of the time, I start out talking about going out and doing something, but a lot of times I end up just sitting at home, watching TV and doing nothing. Sometimes, I just go downtown and walk around just to watch people. I like to watch people, and laugh at what they do, because people are weird."
What would your perfect date be?
Daniels: "As far as who, just someone who could put up with me, because I do a lot of weird things. I like to joke around a lot, so I would like to have someone who is funny and can make me laugh instead of me making them laugh all of the time. Also, I would like someone who is just cool to be with.
"As far as what I would do, go to Gameworks or something and see who could beat who in what games. Let the winner have bragging rights. And after that go out to eat something nice, nothing flashy, but I am not going to try to be cheap either. Take her somewhere cool, and that's about it. Nothing really exciting."
What is your perfect dinner?
Daniels: "Fried chicken with some enchiladas and barbecued ribs. I like them all because they all hit my taste buds right...And a big glass of red (cherry) Kool-Aid. I am from the old school, I would take Kool-Aid to drink."