TribHSSN Preseason WPIAL Football All-Star team: Joey Daniels, Mt. Lebanon
Wednesday, June 30, 2021 | 6:21 PM
The Tribune-Review and the TribLive High School Sports Network are profiling each member of the 25-player Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star team. The players will be recognized July 22 during HSSN Media Day at Kennywood Park.
Mt. Lebanon quarterback Joey Daniels vividly remembers every interception he threw last season.
That’s not because he dwells on the negative. It’s because there were so few of them — two in 97 attempts — that they tend to stand out.
The numbers do a pretty good job explaining why Daniels is a member of the 25-player TribHSSN Preseason Football All-Star Team and Mt. Lebanon looks like a leading contender in the WPIAL’s Class 6A conference.
As a junior, Daniels completed 68 of 97 passes for 1,012 yards for a 70.1 completion percentage that was among the best in the WPIAL. He threw 14 touchdown passes to go with those two interceptions.
He is an accurate passer who makes good decisions, has uncommon chemistry with his receiving corps and takes great pride in being a leader in the huddle.
“At the end of the day, I understand who my receivers are,” Daniels said. “I know how they work on the football field. Knowing that, and the amount of reps we put in — outside of practice, during practice, whatever the case may be — I feel like it’s easy to know where they’re going to be and where I need to put the ball.”
Daniels has caught the attention of a long list of college programs, from West Virginia and Temple to many members of the Ivy League and Patriot League. He has a Division II offer from Wheeling University. He has yet to receive a Division I offer, though.
“The whole recruiting process, I’ve just been trying to stay patient, realize that one day, a school’s going to pull the trigger on me,” Daniels said. “I don’t want to focus on that too much.”
It’s not hard to guess why Division I schools might be hesitant: Daniels is about 5-foot-9, 180 pounds.
Oh, he might show up on a roster or in a recruiting bio as 5-10 or 5-11, but that’s as far as he is willing to stretch the truth, he said with a laugh.
Regardless, he feels his height has shaped his game more in a positive way than anything else.
“What I lack in height, I gotta make up for in leadership and in other categories other guys don’t have,” Daniels said.
Daniels admires the way 5-11 Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson plays the game, but he’d be willing to emulate another longtime NFL standout as well, if colleges asked him to.
If he were asked to take the Julian Edelman route and go from passer to pass catcher, he would entertain the thought.
“I’m actually surprised I haven’t heard a lot of people trying to tell me to change positions,” Daniels said. “Don’t get me wrong. I love playing quarterback. I think that’s what I’m best at, but if a coach wants me at another position, I think I’d be able to fill those needs.”
In the meantime, though, there’s another role Daniels could fill: role model.
A grade school or junior high quarterback could learn a lot more watching Daniels than watching a genetic lottery winner with a prototypical pro or college frame.
“I don’t think it needs to be anything crazy,” Daniels said. “Just little things like pushing off of your back foot or keeping your shoulder closed, keeping your eye on your target. Simple stuff like that can go a long way. Once you start building to high school or hopefully beyond, you can get to the advanced techniques. But mastering those little details can really set a foundation for what you can be.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review Assistant Sports Editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
Tags: Mt. lebanon