Harding’s Daniels selected by Bears


By Dan Hiner

dhiner@vindy.com

Warren Harding graduate James Daniels got the call he had been waiting for on Friday night.

The former Iowa Hawkeyes center — considerd among the best offensive linemen in the country — was selected by the Chicago Bears with the 39th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Daniels became the seventh pick of the second round by the Bears, where he will snap the ball to one of his former high school rivals, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

Daniels’ Raiders and Trubisky’s Mentor Cardinals met in the OHSAA playoffs when both were in high school.

Daniels is looking forward to playing with Trubisky, who threw for five touchdowns and ran for one to lead Mentor over Harding in 2012.

“I’m real excited,” Daniels said. “In 2012, if you would have asked six years ago that I’d be blocking for him, I would say you’re lying. That’s the craziest thing I ever heard. But it means a lot to me.”

The 6-foot-3, 306-pound Daniels played three seasons at Iowa and was honorable-mention, all-Big Ten last year.

Daniels is the third member of his family to make it to the NFL.

His father, LeShun Daniels Sr., played for the Minnesota Vikings in 1997. His brother, LeShun Daniels Jr., was on the New England Patriots and Washington Redskins rosters last season.

James Daniels becomes the first Harding player selected in the NFL Draft since former Ohio State running back Dan “Boom” Herron in 2012.

Prior to declaring on Jan. 5, Daniels received a second-round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee.

James Daniels was named first-team All-Northeast Ohio as a junior and senior, along with first team All-AAC and All-Trumbull County.

While a Hawkeye, Daniels was named third-team All-Big Ten as a sophomore and All-Big Ten honorable mention as a junior this past season.

He played in 34 games in college. He started 23 games at center during his sophomore and junior seasons. James Daniels was orginally a guard and made nine appearances and started twice as a freshman.

The Bears drafted center Cody Whitehair in the second round of last year’s draft.

Prior to starting all 16 games as a rookie for Chicago, Whitehair was considered one of the most versatile offensive linemen in the 2017 Draft. He played at all three interior offensive line positions in college.

Early speculation has the Bears moving Whitehair to guard and putting Daniels at center.

The Bears needed help at guard with Josh Sitton gone and with Kyle Long recovering from ankle, shoulder and neck surgeries.

Chicago spent money in free agency to provide last season’s third overall pick Mitchell Trubisky with more resources.

The Bears signed former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson and former Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons wideout Taylor Gabriel to help improve their receiving corps.

They also added former Philadelphia Eagles tight end Trey Burton.

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