LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Kash Daniel’s desire to succeed is well-documented and his passion for football has rubbed off on the rest of his teammates and his enthusiasm is comparable to Benny Snell.
“He’s a lot like Benny, but on the defensive side,” Kentucky running back Chris Rodriguez said. “He’s a cool dude.”
Like most players, Daniel listens to music as part of his pre-game ritual and mostly sits by himself in the locker room. Things change when the music comes to an end. It’s then the focus shifts from rock and country music to football.
“Once those ear phones come out, it is game time,” Rodriguez said. “He turns everybody up and he’s hyped. It’s very exciting (to have a player like him on the team). He’s an older brother even though he’s not on the same side of the ball. He can motivate you in a lot of ways. He’s a hard worker, he works hard in the weight room and I work hard in the weight room. He will get everybody (fired) up.”
Daniel’s love for the game extends beyond the playing field and being part of a team is the main reason Daniel loves football.
“From a brotherhood standpoint, I don’t think there’s any other sport out there to teach you how to become a team more than any other sport out there, because you take so many different guys from so many different areas and so many different backgrounds … maybe they have different beliefs than you, maybe they have different ways of going about things than you do,” he said of his passion for the game. “You’re taking 105 different guys from totally different backgrounds and you are more into becoming brothers and putting differences aside and ultimately reaching one common goal. To become friends with guys across the nation that you can call brothers for life (and) it’s a team sport that solidifies brotherhood. I can name a thousand reasons why I love football, but (being part of a brotherhood) is my main reason.”
Because of that bond, Daniel expects the Wildcats want to continue the momentum from last year’s 10-3 campaign and continue to make strides on the field.
"We are just going to build off what we did last year and take what we got and just build something no one has ever seen here," Daniel said. "We had a really good defense last year, can we replicate that. So that is one of our challenges here at this camp and one of our challenges for the whole season. Prediction wise I can't predict anything but I can say this defense's goal is to be the most feared defense in the nation and that is our goal."
“When we come out and play, it’s going to be a different story than what they have on paper,” Rodriguez said. “We’re going to be better than what everybody things. I can already tell you.”
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops has high expectations for Daniel this season, but wants his senior linebacker “to be Kash” and not worry about anything else.
“He's authentic,” Stoops said. “We don't need to create anything there. I just need him to continue to be him. That starts with being accountable on the field, on and off the field, but just being a team player like he is. He's very passionate. He cares about winning first and foremost. That's obvious to our team. He's a great leader, he's authentic. We'll continue to rely on him.”
Gametracker: Toledo at Kentucky, Saturday, Aug. 31, noon. TV/Radio: SEC Network, 98.1 FM WBUL.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.