I'm not upset by the implications of LeAndre Daniels' injury for the Cougars on the field. I have little doubt that Tyree Toomer, Chima Nwachukwu, and Jamal Atofau can step up in the inexperienced secondary. What bothers me the most is seeing another Cougar player have to hang it up with such a promising future ahead of them.
I hate seeing college kids suffer career ending injuries. It bothers me to no end that players just starting a career in football can be forced to quit before they even get started. To us it's just a game, but to them it's a means to an end. Most of us graduate and move on to office jobs; these players look forward to trying to make it at the next level. It's just a game, but it's a game many had been playing since they were young kids, perfecting their trade as they move through high school and college.
We all watched Gary Rogers being carted off the field in 2008 against Portland State with an injury not unlike the one Daniels suffered. The Cougar favorite spent years on the bench, dutifully playing the role of backup throughout his career. His senior year was his time to shine, yet it ended before it even got out of the gates.
Eric Block, the little guy that hit like a ton of bricks in the secondary, had to hang up the pads with a debilitating disease that couldn't handle the rigors of football. In his little time on the field, he became a fan favorite with his big hits. The lasting memory of him will always be the hit he delivered over the middle against Stanford to start the 2009 campaign.
Daniels suffered his injury in practice, after sitting out most of last year with a broken leg. I can't help but feel he was snake-bitten. Who knows if he was an all-world safety, but he was one of ours just like the rest.
I hope the Cougar secondary goes out and plays their butts off for Daniels. I hope they're motivated in his absence and play for a teammate that can't. I hope the young Cougs step up to the plate and play big in a secondary that needs it.
I was looking forward to seeing him in Crimson and Gray for the next three years, terrorizing receivers coming over the middle. He looked the part, but I wanted to see if he was going to play the part. Instead, it saddens me greatly to see yet another Coug have to hang up their pads.