WR Chris Daniels got to come home before making the trip overseas
When the Barcelona Dragons arrived at their practice site for NFL Europe League preseason training camp in the Tampa Bay area, wide receiver Chris Daniels felt right at home.
Daniels knew where to find the locker rooms, was familiar with the weight room and had covered every inch of the football field. The reason? The Dragons have been practicing at Daniels' old high school in Clearwater, Florida.
As Jack Bicknell's Dragons go through two-a-day practices at Clearwater High School, Daniels has been taking a trip down Memory Lane. He is playing football on the same field where he starred for the Clearwater High Tornadoes five years earlier. He has been watched by old coaches and teammates and has even paid a visit to his old Spanish teacher in preparation for his trip to Barcelona.
"It feels kind of strange to be playing on my old high school field," said Daniels, who has been allocated to NFL Europe by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "It hasn't really changed that much in the past five years - it looks just the same to me."
A native of Clearwater, Daniels was sent to Europe by the Bucs after he followed a stellar college career at Purdue with an uninformative rookie season on injured reserve. Daniels ranks fourth on the Boilermakers all-time receiving charts with 159 receptions. He set a Big-10 record with 109 catches as a senior, earning All-America honors.
While preparing for the 2001 NFLEL campaign, Daniels has been enjoying catching up with some old faces. "A lot of coaches and teachers have come out to watch us practice and to say hello to me," Daniels said. "I dropped in to see my old Spanish teacher the other day and grabbed a couple of text books to help me out in Europe. I used to be able to speak Spanish well but I have started to forget some things over the years so I'll be brushing up with these books in time for my trip overseas to Barcelona."
Daniels, who could also handle long-snapping duties for the Dragons in 2001, is looking forward to the NFLEL season and feels it will help him take that next step with the Buccaneers.
"It's an opportunity to get on the field and make some plays," Daniels said. "It will give me a chance to show what I can do because I didn't really get to play last year. My plan is just to go out there and do the best I can to help the Dragons. We have a great bunch of guys here and it's great working with Jack Bicknell. There is a great atmosphere around camp and the coaching staff has a lot of experience so we can learn a lot from them."
While Daniels is happy to be practicing on his old football field, he plans to steer well clear of the classroom after making that brief trip to see his Spanish teacher.
"There's no way I'm going back in one of those classrooms," Daniels joked. "I really don't want to be back sitting behind one of those desks."