Jayden Daniels enjoys ‘surreal’ combine reunion with Raiders coach Antonio Pierce


INDIANAPOLIS — When Antonio Pierce recruited Jayden Daniels to Arizona State. Pierce said the quarterback was “150 pounds wet.”

“Everybody was like, what are you doing with this little skinny dude from San Bernardino?” Pierce said Wednesday.

Fast-forward past Daniels playing for Pierce and head coach Herm Edwards and then transferring to LSU and winning the Heisman Trophy. And Pierce leaving his position as recruiting coordinator and linebackers coach in Tempe to become the linebackers coach and then head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.

Stop fast-forwarding when you get to Tuesday night at the NFL Scouting Combine. Daniels walked into a team interview and smiled when he saw Pierce. Daniels is one of the top three quarterbacks in the NFL Draft, and the Raiders are going to see if they can trade up from No. 13 to get him.

“It was very surreal,” Daniels said Friday morning. “Walking in that room and seeing (Pierce) … he was all professional and stuff (laughs). I looked at him and … he did a great job asking me official questions. It was great.”

Daniels, 23, played three years at Arizona State before transferring to LSU, and last year he won the Heisman after passing for 40 touchdowns and running for 10.

“I thought he would win the Heisman — that was my recruiting pitch — and then … he won the Heisman,” Pierce said Wednesday with a chuckle. “That was cool. And then he called my name out and that was even cooler. I am just proud of him.

“What I was then was a winner, a guy who is very competitive and is always out to prove people wrong. He has been doubted his whole life because of his size or certain attributes about him physically, and all he has done is prove people wrong.

“It’s been good to watch him do it at the highest level of college football, the SEC.”

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Daniels is reportedly 6-foot-3 and 206 pounds, but we will know the official numbers before he works out on Saturday.

As he said at the Heisman Trophy ceremony, Daniels is very thankful that Pierce took a chance on him.

“My time with A.P. … He is who he is,” Daniels said. “People see it now, but he was the same when I was in high school weighing 150 pounds. He believed in me. He recruited me. He gave me an opportunity.

“Our relationship goes beyond football.”

Daniels added that his former Sun Devils teammates Brandon Aiyuk and Rachaad White are like his big brothers and he has leaned on them for advice.

Daniels also got to meet new Raiders offensive coordinator Luke Getsy on Tuesday.

“It was great,” Daniels said. “Going in there, I already knew Coach Pierce, but overall, just meeting the whole staff … there was a great energy. I loved just being able to sit down and talk ball.”

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The Raiders met with all seven of the top quarterbacks, as they would like to draft someone to beat out incumbent Aidan O’Connell.

“A lot of guys speak highly about Coach A.P. and the things he’s able to do,” Washington’s Michael Penix said. “I was able to see him and meet him, pretty cool guy.”

(Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski / USA Today)





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