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Otterbein finds McDaniels

Every year, coach Joe Loth goes on a tight end hunt. This year, he struck pay dirt.

Loth, the Otterbein College Cardinals head football coach, said finding quality tight ends is one of his hardest assignments. But the signing of Ironton Fighting Tigers senior tight end Tyler McDaniels made things a lot easier for his program.

"Tight end is a position that's hard to fill at any level. Our starting tight end is returning, but we only have one tight end we felt who could play," Loth said.

"Tyler might give us the opportunity to expand our offense and be our second tight end right off the bat. We're not expecting him to start as a freshman. We don't want to put that kind of pressure on him, but we want to utilize him."

McDaniels was utilized in a variety of ways for the Fighting Tigers who were 10-2 last season and reached the regional semifinals.

The second team Associated Press all-district selection was recruited as a tight end, but the other options presented to him are strong safety and outside linebacker. He helped Ironton to a 10-2 record and berth in the Division IV playoffs.

"I like the offensive side of the ball more. I feel I'm more suited for it, but I don't mind defense because you get to hit people," McDaniels said. "I played so many positions in high school it's going to be very helpful."

The 6-foot-4 McDaniels has grown from his 205 playing weight during football season to 235. He said the added weight will help him at the college level.

"I'd like to gain a couple more pounds before fall. It'll give me more options and I can always lose weight if I need to," McDaniels said.

Tyler's father Paul, also a tight end for the Fighting Tigers in the 1970s, was a starting tight end at West Virginia State. Son has leaned on dad for a few tips about playing at the college level.

"He told me it was going to be tough competition no matter where you go. He said if you want spot, you have to go and take it and you've got to work hard," Tyler said.

Ironton head coach Bob Lutz said McDaniels will be an asset to the Otterbein program.

"Tyler's a great kid. He's a pleasure to have around," Lutz said. "He's a good student and he's going to get better. His best football is in front of him."

After being recruited and accepted at five different NCAA and NAIA schools including Ohio Northern, Wittenberg and Cumberland, Ky., McDaniels settled on Otterbein.

"I really liked the coaching staff. They have a lot of Otterbein graduates on the coaching staff who want to see the program get better and build it up. They have good facilities, too," McDaniels said.

And the coaching staff likes McDaniels, too.

"We're impressed with the type person Tyler is. We like to sign kids from a good family and Tyler definitely fits the mold. And second, we like to recruit kids from other great programs. Ironton traditionally is one of the best programs in the state of Ohio," Loth said.

"The thing we like most about Tyler is he's coming from Ironton. There's only a few programs in the state of Ohio who know how to win."

Although McDaniels did not catch many passes in Ironton's run-oriented offense, Loth said the running style actually helped the Otterbein staff jump at the chance to land the Fighting Tigers tight end.

"Maybe (McDaniels) was under recruited because he didn't have the opportunity to catch a lot of passes. Part of that is because Ironton likes to run the ball," Loth said.

"When you recruit a tight end, you recruit a tight end who can catch and teach him how to block, or you recruit a tight end who can catch and teach him how to block. We found it easier to teach a guy to catch the ball because usually he hasn't had the opportunity to catch the ball."

McDaniels, a 3.5 honor student, plans to major in either physical therapy or athletic training.

Tyler is the son of Paul and Gina McDaniels of Ironton and the grandson of Kelland and Dora McClellan, the late Carole McClellan, Carolyn McDaniels and the late Jim McDaniels.