McDaniel appeared in 11 games and finished with 11 tackles, a half of a sack, one pass defensed and one fumble recovery. In reality, the 6-foot-7, 305-pound South Carolina native probably shouldn’t have been on the field at all. Between his surgically repaired thumb and multiple injuries to his right leg, McDaniel was fortunate to suit up for those 11 games, which is why he was an obvious choice for the award given to the player who exemplifies “commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage.”
Not only did McDaniel play with a metal plate in his thumb that keeps two bones borrowed from his wrist together, but he also fought through a torn meniscus, sprained ankle and turf toe. At one point during the season he had to have his knee drained, a very painful procedure, yet he never complained or even let on to reporters and those around him what he was going through just to make it to practice.
“People see me get injured, but they really didn’t know the things I was going though,” McDaniel told The Miami Herald. “I tried to battle through and play and be the player I was. Even if I didn’t think I had it in me to go, I went. I knew I wasn’t healthy playing this year, but still had to be motivated to make something happen. I’ll be back next year.”