Jacobbi McDaniel came to Florida State amid considerable hype. He was a top recruit who was supposed to help turn the Florida State defense around and bring the Seminoles back to respectability.
Then in the middle of 2011 he got hurt and ended up missing all of 2012 on a redshirt. In that time the Florida State defensive line has rocketed back to respectability, the Seminoles have climbed back to the top of the ACC and a number of other highly-touted recruits have come to FSU and pushed McDaniel to the back of the fanbase's collective memory.
Now he's ready to change that. And he's hungrier than ever.
"I feel like I have something to prove to coming off a devastating injury like that," said McDaniel. "I just have to go back out and just prove myself and play football.”
McDaniel suffered a badly broken ankle against Duke and hasn't played since. He's been through a lot the past two seasons, but now he's just happy to be back out on the field.
“It’s been a blessing, you know, it’s been a real joy," said McDaniel. "I’ve been out two years and you really don’t know how much you enjoy something until something like that happens to you. It was a scare man but just to get back out there in Spring practice is a blessing. I didn’t miss any practice, I’m proud of that, that shows my ankle has come a long ways and just going out there and practicing every day and getting better."
McDaniel is battling for time at defensive tackle where he feels he can contribute a lot this year.
“Big time man," he said. "I’m going out every day taking pride in myself, taking pride in my craft, not going down, not going out there with my head held down because I just came off this injury I’m going down there to get reps, practice and do what I have to do to better myself and get more confidence in my ankle.”
“He’s back. He’s stronger than before when he got hurt, he’s quick as a cat," said DT Tim Jernigan. "He’s going to play a lot for us this year.”
It didn't always seem like McDaniel would get back to this point though. He admits he went through some pretty dark periods but credits his family for always sticking it out with him and giving him a new purpose to play for throughout his recovery.
"My family was there the whole time to keep my head up, to keep me motivated, to keep me strong," said McDaniel. "So anytime I went into rehab, I thought about my family. I don’t want to do this only for me, I want that purpose, I had a purpose during my rehab. My purpose was I don’t want to let my family down. And they were there the whole time so I don’t want them to feel like there time went unnoticed, it’s just that motivation man, your purpose.”
On Saturday that will come full circle when McDaniel takes the field for the Garnet and Gold game and plays football competitively for the first time in two years.
And the people who have been their supporting him through his rehab will be in the house to see it.
"Everybody’s coming this Saturday," said McDaniel with a massive smile. "I think it’s the first time they’ve come to a Spring game.
"It’s going to be big, man.”
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