By KEVIN HARRIS
For the past few seasons, Charlestown High School quarterback Aaron Daniel proved he was one of the best players in Indiana.
Next fall, the senior wants to prove he can play football at the NCAA Division I level.
Daniel announced this week that he will be a preferred walk-on for the Indiana University football team in the 2013 season. Daniel got accepted for admission to IU on Monday.
Daniel is excited about the once-in-a-lifetime chance to play at college football’s highest level.
“It’s just a good opportunity to play Division I football,” said Daniel, whose older brother Clay attends IU.
Charlestown coach Jason Hawkins says Hoosiers’ assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator Doug Mallory has been talking to Daniel about playing for IU for the last year and a half. Mallory is the son of former Hoosiers’ coach Bill Mallory.
Hawkins and Daniel both confirmed that the IU coaching staff plans on playing Daniel at safety.
“[Doug Mallory] thought Aaron was a good enough athlete to play in the secondary,” Hawkins said.
Daniel thinks being a defensive back might be the best chance for him to get playing time as soon as possible.
“I will probably be a safety because it will be the quickest way for me to get on the field,” said Daniel, who along with his quarterback duties was a starting safety at Charlestown and was the Pirates’ punter and place-kicker.
Daniel had a season to remember last season at Charlestown.
The 6-foot, 190-pound quarterback threw for a school-record 2,075 yards and 36 touchdowns and rushed for 1,766 yards and 32 touchdowns in helping the 12-1 Pirates win the outright Mid-Southern Conference championship and the Class 3A Sectional 23 title.
Daniel was named the News and Tribune Area Player of the Year and garnered a spot on the 2012 Indiana Football Coaches Association Top 50 All-State team. He will be a quarterback for the South squad in the IFCA’s Grange Insurance All-Star Classic on Friday, July 19 at North Central High School in Indianapolis.
Daniel broke 18 school records during his Charlestown career, including the all-time rushing and passing marks.
But that did not produce a lot of football scholarship offers from colleges. Daniel says he talked to Ball State and the University of Indianapolis about playing football along with several NCAA Division III schools.
Daniel accepts the challenge of playing Division I football and plans on using the lack of scholarship offers as motivation at IU.
“It’s definitely a big challenge for me,” Daniel said. “With hardly no schools interested in me, I’ve got a chip on my shoulder to prove that I can play at that level.”
Hawkins says if there is anyone who can handle the challenge, it is Daniel.
“It’s a challenge for anybody to play at the D-I level,” Hawkins said. “Aaron has not played against that type of competition. But he will do whatever it takes to prove he can play at the Division I level.”
Hawkins says Daniel has put on 15-20 pounds of muscle since the end of the 2012 season in preparing for Division I football. Daniel plans on majoring in exercise science at IU.