Patience won’t help Iowa defensive end Lebron Daniel chase down Big Ten quarterbacks, but it has helped him reach the point where he finally gets the chance to on a regular basis.
As Adrian Clayborn’s backup for the past three seasons, Daniel has played sparingly up to this point.
“I’ve played behind Adrian Clayborn for basically my whole career,” Daniel said.
There was a benefit to that because Daniel also learned from watching and interacting with one of the top defensive ends in school history.
Clayborn earned consensus All-America honors as a senior last season. He was also selected in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and now is starting as a rookie.
“We were good friends and I saw a lot and just learned a lot over these years,” Daniel said. “I learned how to play tough, how to play physical.
“I saw how he made plays. I think it was definitely good for me.”
Daniel feels the pressure that comes with replacing a star player and tries to use it to his advantage.
“Any time you have to replace a guy like that there is definitely pressure,” Daniel said. “But I think with all the hard work we do here, it’s motivating to want to get out there and do it.”
Motivation shouldn’t be a problem for Iowa’s defensive linemen because in addition to Clayborn, two other starters on the defensive line from last season – Karl Klug and Christian Ballard – also have moved on to the NFL.
Some now consider Iowa suspect on the defensive line.
However, as Daniel points out, the same was said about the Iowa offensive line heading into last season, but it was arguably one of the team’s biggest strengths.
“It’s definitely motivation,” said Daniel, a 6-foot-2, 256-pound fifth-year senior from Cleveland, Ohio. “Every year we have to replace somebody.
“They were saying that about the offensive line last year and they did just fine. So hopefully, we can do the same.”
Daniel, along with a new starter at defensive tackle, will team with veterans Mike Daniels and Broderick Binns to form Iowa’s new-look defensive line.
Daniels started eight games at defensive tackle last season and Binns started five at defensive end.
Binns also started all 13 games as a sophomore in 2009 before having his playing time cut last season to make room for Daniels.
Iowa defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski praised Binns for how he handled his reduced role last season.
“Broderick is a team guy, and when you put on the tape that’s the one great thing about football, the tape doesn’t lie,” Kaczenski said. “Mike (Daniels) was very productive and I think Broderick was a team guy. Whatever person is in the best position to help us win football games, Broderick is 100 percent for (that person).”
Kaczenski also senses that Binns is determined to end his career with a bang, especially after losing playing time last season.
“This is important to him, his legacy and his success and the success of the program,” Kaczenski said of Binns. “That’s important to him just like it was to all the guys prior to him. So he wants to make sure that we accomplish some good things this year.”
As for the defensive tackle spot still up for grabs, 255-pound sophomore Dominic Alvis was listed as the starter heading into preseason practice.
Senior Tom Nardo and junior and Joe Gaglione also should be in the mix at the tackle positions and senior Joe Forgy and redshirt freshman Mike Hardy will provide depth at defensive end.
Another player to watch is 310-pound redshirt freshman Carl Davis, who is listed as Mike Daniels’ backup at tackle.
Davis is one of the biggest defensive tackles to ever play at Iowa, and that’s after losing 20 pounds.
“I don’t know if (my size) really helped me at first because I was actually too heavy,” Davis said. “I’m still pretty athletic.
“I think I shocked some people when I came in. They saw that I could actually move a little bit.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football