SHARONVILLE, Ohio -- Princeton cornerback Jaidon Seay considered a transfer when Pat McLaughlin accepted the La Salle football head coaching position in February.
“My family and I prayed about it and decided to stay,” said Seay, a member of the 2018 class. “We’re glad we did.”
When Princeton named Mike Daniels as its head coach March 22, the Vikings looked to their rich tradition in naming the 2003 graduate to the position. The timeline wasn't ideal but Daniels moved quickly to engage the school community.
Six weeks later, Daniels’ impact has been felt at the school and beyond.
“He brings energy,” Princeton Athletic Director Gary Croley Jr. said. “That is contagious. The fire is back.”
The season opener in late August at West Clermont is still months away, but the Vikings want to keep the momentum from 2016 when they nearly made the Division II playoffs with a 6-4 record.
“You got to lock in,” 2018 outside linebacker Quincy Dawson said. “It’s not about the past, but making your own future.”
While several players have competed in track and field this spring, Princeton does have 30-40 players in the weight room on a daily basis.
Princeton moves up to the Division I classification this season due to enrollment, but the players say they embrace the challenge. Princeton scrimmages Moeller, Withrow and Colerain in August before the regular season.
“I’ve actually noticed there is starting to be a culture change,” 2018 running back Rafael Floyd said. “When we walk around the hallways the vibe we get knowing that we have a coach knowing that we are going to be more like a team. Coach hasn’t promised us anything. He told us if we buy into what he’s bringing into Princeton we’re going to have success. I believe in him.”
Daniels, a former University of Cincinnati standout, joined Princeton after leaving his position as the wide receivers coach at Kennesaw State. He coached three seasons at a high school in Georgia and compiled a 28-6 record.
Daniels was a four-year letter-winner at UC (2003-07) where he was a triple threat as a wide receiver, running back and returner. He served as the team captain and earned the Jim Kelly Spirit Award in 2007 under head coach Brian Kelly.
A 2013 Princeton Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, Daniels was named the 2002 Ohio Division I state offensive player of the year. He holds and shares single-game school records in most passing attempts (51), most yards gained passing (448), most touchdown passes thrown (5), most touchdowns scored (5). His regular-season school records include: passing attempts (355), passes completed (191), yards passing (2,564), touchdown passes thrown (21), touchdowns (24) and total yards (3,951).
Daniels’ message has been simple to his Princeton players this spring. His enthusiastic approach is working. He's connected with the veteran players and younger students in the school.
“We’re just trying to get them to work harder from a mental standpoint and understanding we’re going to have to push ourselves a little bit more if we want to beat the teams that we want to beat,” Daniels said.
The players like the direction and the message their new coach has imparted.
“He shows he really cares about us and wants us to be successful,” Seay said.