MARQUETTE - After growing up in Escanaba and spending four years in Marquette at Northern Michigan University, Jace Daniels is finally getting some sun.
Oh, and a shot at making an National Football League roster.
Daniels, the former Wildcat offensive tackle and 2009 Escanaba High School graduate, accepted a rookie tryout offer from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday after not being selected in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Jace Daniels, the former Northern Michigan offensive tackle and 2009 Escanaba High School graduate, accepted a rookie tryout offer from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday after not being selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. He’ll fly out to Florida on Thursday with the rookie camp set to begin on Friday. (NMU photo)
He'll fly out to Florida on Thursday with the rookie camp set to begin on Friday.
"It feels awesome," Daniels said. "I just feel be blessed right now to get this opportunity to fulfill this dream I've always had."
The NMU senior 6-foot-4, 300-pound left tackle started all 11 games for NMU during his junior and senior years, earning All-GLIAC second-team honors in 2011 and first-team accolades in 2012.
Prior to the draft, Daniels said teams were looking at him as a center or even a guard, saying he didn't have long enough arms to play tackle - the same thing scouts said about Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga prior to the 2010 draft.
Like the Packers with Bulaga, the Buccaneers are bucking that theory and giving Daniels a chance to make the team at his natural position. If tackle doesn't work out, the Buccaneers will move him inside to guard or center, Daniels said.
After working with a number of the Wildcats centers on snaps leading up to the draft, Daniels said it was a relief to hear his arm length won't prevent him for trying to make an NFL roster as a tackle.
"I was happy to hear that," Daniels said about his shot at playing tackle.
Besides the Buccaneers, Daniels had been in touch with the Packers, New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers prior to the draft.
As of Sunday night, Daniels said he and his agent, John Perez of Perez Sports Associates in New Jersey, were still in contact with the Giants, who would be interested in Daniels should he not be signed by the Buccaneers.
The Giants' rookie camp takes place a week after the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay is Daniel's preferred choice, however, and not just for the sun.
It's the lone franchise that had his back from start to finish, Daniels said.
"They were the only team that stuck with me through the whole thing," Daniels said. "They're the ones taking a shot on me right now, so that's why I decided to go with them."
The Buccaneers traded their first-round pick, 13th overall, to the New York Jets for cornerback Derrelle Revis, then went on to select Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks in the second round, N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon in the third round, Illinois defensive tackle Akeem Spence and Michigan State defensive end William Gholston in the fourth round, Buffalo defensive end Steven Means in the fifth round and Miami running back Mike James in the sixth round.
NFL.com identified cornerback, tight end, defensive line, quarterback and wide receiver as needs for the Buccaneers going in the 2013 draft, prior to the trade for Revis.
Under first-year head coach Greg Schiano, Tampa Bay finished last in the NFC South in 2012 at 7-9, which was also the record for the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints. The Bucs came in last due to a 4-8 record against NFC opponents.
Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mattwellens.