October 15, 1998
By Brian Remsberg
Purdue Athletic Public Relations Student Assistant
He was only 5-foot-4 and 115 pounds his freshman year in high school. But a mere four years later he was a starting guard on the basketball team, the best pole vaulter in the state and an NCAA Division I football recruit. Clearwater, Fla., native Chris Daniels has made similar strides since coming to Purdue as a wide receiver in 1995.
"I think being the smallest guy on the team, either you're going to quit or push yourself to be better," Daniels says. "I told myself I needed to push myself to be better because you never know what can happen. I was given the opportunity to play here, and that was the best thing for me."
After spending much of his first two seasons on special teams, including long snapping for punts in 1996, the junior is finally getting a shot at his true position. Now standing 6-3, 200, Daniels has become one of sophomore quarterback Drew Brees' favorite targets. On Oct. 10 at Wisconsin, Daniels caught 14 passes for 131 yards, including touchdown receptions of two and six yards.
"I didn't do anything exceptional or out of the norm, they dropped their corners straight back and the short stuff and outs were open," says Daniels, who currently is the Boilermakers' fourth-leading receiver with 23 catches for 238 yards and ranks second with four touchdowns.
An aviation technology student at Purdue, Daniels has a pretty good idea of where he wants to be in 10 years. "I would like to be a pilot for a major airline company or maybe flying corporate jets," he says. Daniels knows a little bit about airing it out. Last season against Michigan State he threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to former Boilermaker and current New York Giant Brian Alford. "The coaches gave me an opportunity to do something, it was a big opportunity for me to prove that I could handle a game-type situation," Daniels says.
Another highlight for Daniels last season was his 69-yard touchdown reception in Purdue's 33-20 Alamo Bowl victory over Oklahoma State. "I was really happy my parents and family were able to make it to the game to see that," he says.
Daniels and the Boilermakers (3-3) go to 12th-ranked Penn State (4-1) this Saturday for what could be a turning point in their season. "The past couple of years we've had a chance to beat Penn State and haven't come up with the big plays," Daniels says. "We have to go into their town against their fans, it's going to be a rough and tough game. But I'm confident we're going to make the big plays this year."
Expect the former "little guy" to make his fair share of catches in
the big game.