BROOKINGS, S.D. (KSFY) - Mikey Daniel is a staple to Brookings, South Dakota football.
“Being able to do what we’ve done in Brookings has just meant so much more to me than probably the rest of the guys, because I know the town and the community on such a personal level that it just means the world to me.,” said Daniel.
Before he was scoring touchdowns for the blue and gold though, this six-foot running back made his mark at Coughlin Alumni Field as a Brookings Bobcat. Daniel scored 22 touchdowns with more than 1,500 yards just during his senior season at Brookings. After putting up high numbers, he didn’t have to move far to showcase his talents at the next level.
“I think the whole community is really proud of Mikey. I think for me, I’m proud of him and I marvel at how he has developed in our program. I marvel at the type of team player he is, because he’s got to share reps at running back and that’s hard at times. But truly a winner in every sense,” said South Dakota State Head Coach John Stiegelmeier.
Five years after running routes as a high school senior, Daniel has racked in 30 touchdowns for South Dakota State, along with nearly 1,800 yards.
“If you would have asked me that five years ago when I walked into the building how do you see your career, I definitely would not have known it would play out like this. But I have made the most of it, and I’m excited for what I’ve done,” said Daniel.
If this college running back wants to take the next step in his game, he knows his options may be limited. So Daniel turned to another South Dakota icon on how to stand out in the NFL. Augustana alum C.J. Ham made a statement in division two as a running back, but it was his transition to fullback that made the Minnesota Vikings take notice.
“I was like, you know, I have a lot of similar characteristics to him. If he can do something like this and make that transition, then that’s something that I want to do as well,” said Daniel.
Now in his fifth season with the Jackrabbits, Mikey has taken notes from Ham on how to become a more versatile player in his final collegiate season.
“I’m not the fastest and stuff like that, so I had to find different ways to make myself get on the field and to show what I can do. In terms of like I can take on a block, I’ll run down on special teams, I’ll make a block on special teams. I run the ball when I need to run the ball. At first I wasn’t excited about playing fullback, but then after talking with him and realizing there is a true market and opportunity for me to do that, I kind of had to drop an ego and say I will go make the block, I don’t need to just run the ball. So I am just forever grateful for CJ Ham and just the impact he has had on me,” said Daniel.
Before Mikey turns to Pro-Day and a potential future in the NFL, he hopes to make one more staple to his story in Brookings and come out with a win at home in the second round of the FCS playoffs.
“I thought I wasn’t going to play here ever again, so having the opportunity to play at least one more time here is going to be big. My mom gets to come and everything like that, so that’s big for me. Just to have the family and the community support me here has always been great so another opportunity at home is cool,” said Daniel.
South Dakota State will host Northern Iowa in the second round of the FCS playoffs on Saturday, December 7th.