Iowa junior James Daniels has NFL decision ahead

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

A few weeks ago, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz referenced that "probably got a couple" underclassmen would soon have stay-or-go NFL decisions to make.

One of them was obviously fourth-year junior cornerback Josh Jackson, a first-team consensus all-American who has been projected as a first-round 2018 draft pick if he leaves early.

The other, less-talked-about option was center James Daniels, who unlike Jackson is a true junior.

But it's definitely an option.

James Daniels has 24 career starts for Iowa, most of them at center, and has played in 35 games in a three-year career.

On a pre-Pinstripe Bowl teleconference Friday, Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz said he hadn't discussed the decision yet with Daniels, who turned 20 in September. It's around this time that players typically get a grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board.

A few years ago, all-America cornerback Desmond King didn't get the first- or second-round grade he hoped for and stayed at Iowa for his senior season.

"At some point we'll sit down and address that," said Brian Ferentz, who was Daniels' offensive-line coach for two years. "I know this: James Daniels has done a heck of a job playing for us. He's been a good football player, done the things we've asked him to do. Certainly he's earned the right to consider an NFL career."

Losing Daniels would be a big setback for the 2018 Hawkeyes. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound native of Warren, Ohio, has 24 career starts (most of them at center) and has played 35 games in his three-year career. His backup is redshirt freshman Cole Banwart, who is injured.

"He's going to have to make a decision on what's best for him," Ferentz said. "What would be best for our football program would be to have him back. Would love to have him back."