Freshman AD Series: Antonio McDaniel

LightningDragon · March 22, 2024


By: Cole Mantell (@lightningdragon)

If there is one thing Antonio McDaniel is known for, he’s a talker. He’ll talk to you in league chat. He’ll talk more than anyone in the locker room. He’ll DM recruits in the dead of night if he has to. Sometimes that might get him into some trouble, but that’s the kind of person McDaniel is. “I try my best to be honest. I love to talk and it’s so easy for me. With year-round recruiting, it’s awesome. I love to chat with the seniors who are getting ready to graduate and the newcomers too. It’s awesome just to reach out and see what they are thinking.”

Some Athletic Directors are known for their recruiting background. Some for their simming background. While all ADs need to know how to do both, McDaniel is certainly in the class of the former. He’s been a coach for five seasons, four of which were on the highly successful coaching staff of Will Stephens at Illinois. He worked his way up the staff to become the Head Coach under Stpehens last season. Illinois had a banner season, going 8-1 and winning their first-ever conference title. McDaniel was a big part of that success.

“[McDaniel’s] time at Illinois was electric. He brought a lot of energy to the team and league chat. Always representing the team and was a great leader while he was here. I expect him to find success as an Athletic Director.” Those were the words of his former boss Will Stephens when asked for this story. Needless to say, McDaniel has been patiently waiting for this opportunity, and the rest of the league seems to think he will be a candidate for the next big and successful expansion team.

No Josiah Henry will be on the roster for the expansion Michigan State Spartans. While the AD might be forced to make a different position for his next player, his history playing HB is sure to inform his game-planning. When asked Henry was coy about the exact plans he has in place. But that doesn’t mean he’s straying from the ideas of his former AD he worked under. He indicated to me in our conversation he would be looking to run a balanced (but not necessarily run-heavy) offense. On defense, he pointed to the defensive line as his most important position to build around. Physical play was mentioned on both sides of the ball.

The other interesting wrinkle is all about geography. McDaniel has coached in the CFSL through Washington and Illinois. He’s a BIG 10 guy, moving towards a new job in the BIG 10 at Michigan State. Interestingly, however, Antonio is a southern football guy by blood. He hails from South Carolina and has been a lifelong UGA and Atlanta Falcons fan. He’s learned a bunch of new things about northern football these past few seasons, and now he’s trying to continue that tradition with an expansion team all of his own.


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