by Rob MoseleyEditor, GoDucks.com
When preseason camp opens for the Ducks on Aug. 5, sophomore T.J. Daniel will find himself working with a new position group.
Daniel, a native of Oakland, Calif., was a tight end last season, and got the bulk of his playing time on special teams. He was on the PAT unit for the Ducks' 2012 opener, and recorded two tackles in other special teams roles later in the year.
But this fall, Daniel moves to the defensive line. The 6-foot-6 athlete, now at about 260 pounds, hopes to put on about another 20 to play the defensive end spot manned by Taylor Hart and DeForest Buckner.
"I'm looking forward to it," Daniel said. "I played D line all four years in high school, and before high school, so it's nothing new to me."
As a senior for Bishop O'Dowd High, Daniel had 63 tackles and 7.5 sacks, after a junior season in which he had 25 tackles with 4.5 sacks. The Ducks liked him as a tight end, but he played sparingly there as a true freshman, and this spring found himself behind both returning starter Colt Lyerla and classmate Pharaoh Brown.
After the spring, when Mark Helfrich held individual meetings with players, he broached the idea of Daniel moving to defense. Daniel "thought that was cool, so I went over."
This summer, Daniel has tried to pick up what he can.
"It's pretty good so far," he said. "I'm learning the defense: all the stunts, everything like that."
The fact that he has a redshirt season available if necessary, and that the Ducks have a wealth of talent on the defensive line, eases the pressure on Daniel to feel like he needs to contribute immediately. Of course, a speedy transition could speed up his entry into the rotation.