Noah Daniels has never been shy on confidence.
The one-time three star cornerback out of League City, TX played his way into 28 offers, choosing TCU from among the ten Power Five programs to ask him to join. After redshirting in his first year on campus, Daniels played in all 13 games in 2018, and looked primed for a breakout campaign in year three. But an injury in fall camp cost him his season — and delayed his arrival as an elite player on an elite defense.
Well, he’s here now.
And he knows what he’s capable of — and isn’t afraid of the weight of expectation. “At corner you have to have extreme confidence because you never know when they’re going to throw at you.”
Coming off of a shoulder injury, it took Daniels some time to get back to feeling like a football player again. “It’s been so long since I played football. My first game back it didn’t even feel real at first.” But once he got that first hit under his belt, against Iowa State, he knew he was “ready to go”. And being able to get up, pain free? That let him know he was back to full strength. “I didn’t feel pain, I just felt normal. It gave me a lot of confidence that I could hit somebody.”
With star players in Trevon Moehrig, Ar’Darius Washington, and Garret Wallow on the defense with him, it would be easy to forget about a corner making his debut as a starter in his junior season. But Daniels has made it all but impossible to ignore him with his play, whether that’s making opposing quarterbacks look the other way, or making a big play to keep points off the board. He has done both through two games in 2020 and was especially filthy against Texas, limiting Texas receivers (just one catch for 12 yards against him with three PBUs) or stripping the ball away from Brennan Eagles in the end zone to keep a touchdown off the board. Between him, Trevius Hodges-Tomlinson, Lakendrick Van Zandt, Washington and Moehrig, it’s a pretty nasty defensive secondary for the Horned Frogs.
Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson and Noah Daniels, TCU's starting corners, allowed a combined three catches and 23 yards on 12 targets against Texas Saturday, per @PFF. That is putting your opponents in jail.— Grant Mc- GHOUL -iard (@grantmcgalliard) October 5, 2020
Though camp was different this fall, and the start to the season was unusual as well, Daniels’ return to the field has been successful for one main reason: he earned it. The work put in early is paying off on Saturday’s, and this is a defensive unit that should only get better as time goes by. “I’m feeling real confident; all of that confidence came from fall camp and before the season knowing the work I put in — and just going out and doing it. The confidence came from preparation.” But it’s not just about making sure he knows what he can do and what he has to do, it’s about mentoring up a young group of corners behind, him, too. “I try to do the best I can as far as leading them and motivating them. If I notice something I try to help them a lot, but the main part is just trying to keep their confidence up. I let them know we prepared and worked for this and just putting it on the field.” His teammates have noticed his preparation as well, on both sides of the ball. “He’s a great corner. Has great speed. He really hones in on his craft,” wide receiver Taye Barber said earlier this season. “He’s a really good corner and I can’t wait to see what he does [this season] because he’s really good.”
Coming off of a win against a top ten opponent and (likely) facing a true freshman QB Saturday, the TCU defense should continue to find their footing — and hopefully eliminating the big play big that has haunted them the last two weeks. Daniels and co aren’t taking anything for granted at this point, but know that his team can play at an elite level. “I think it gave us a lot of confidence because Texas is a very good football team. We know what we need to get better on for Kansas State. I think it shows we can compete with anybody.”
Daniels will have his next opportunity Saturday against a Kansas State offense that hasn’t put up huge numbers through the air, but has excelled at finding the end zone. If the TCU defense can clean up the communication and limit big plays, they have a great opportunity to get to 2-0 on the year.