It's almost difficult to remember that McDaniel was the #15 overall prospect in 2009. Though I would never say he has played poorly, and starting as a true freshman didn't offer him much time to develop (neither did a year of coaching from Jody Allen) I don't think he has lived up to his potential.
Sure, he's a bit undersized. But he did put on good weight this past offseason, and will likely put on a little more muscle this spring. He will also undoubtedly improve from another offseason under the guidance of Stoops and Hudson.
But where is the ceiling on this kid? I'm inclined to think that just about all of the kids recruited prior to 2010 were at a significant disadvantage, from multiple perspectives (diet/nutrition, proper coaching, strong sense of leadership, etc.) Perhaps none suffered greater than the boys on the D-line.
No one expected the world in a season. Few could've expected the season we got out of this team, much less its defense.
My question is, can we expect a breakthrough from McDaniel? Could this offseason allow him to explode into the stratosphere in the mode of, say, Nick Fairley?
Also, are there any other players (on either side of the ball, not including true freshmen) who could make the leap this season? I feel like we're going to see a noticeable increase in production from Haulstead/Smith, and from guys like Kenny Shaw and Christian Green. Also, the linebacker corp is likely to show big gains.
But McDaniel is the one I'm most interested to see. I can't help but think that, had he been pulled in by an Alabama or Texas, he'd have turned into an absolute beast by now. And I want to believe this staff can still tap into that potential.