HUNTINGTON - As the number of Marshall spring practices drew equal with his jersey number, Armonze Daniel's profile among the linebackers kept growing.
To show how much, the defensive coaches even gave him a few reps Tuesday at defensive end, hand down and all. The more the man sporting No. 13 gets comfortable and confident, the more coaches are seeing how many ways they can use him.
"He shows some natural pass-rushing skills," Herd coach Doc Holliday pointed out.
With the spring drawing near a close, the youthful linebacker unit has undergone an interesting evolution. With Billy Mitchell on the sidelines these days, Devin Arrington is the lone senior, with Daniel, Jermaine Holmes, Deon Meadows, Cortez Carter and Raheem Waiters getting their full dose of reps.
Not all of those came to MU as a linebacker and several did not play the position in high school. Daniel was a safety at Avon High School near Indianapolis, but was ticketed to move forward.
He started his MU career on the strong side, and was redshirted. The extra practices that came with Marshall's bowl participation gave him and his young teammates a major jump on spring.
Daniel was flopped to the weak side and has thrived in the final three weeks. In the Thundering Herd's first scrimmage, he stood out with 13 tackles, two for loss, and intercepted a deflected pass. He followed that up with a seven-tackle performance last weekend.
He has gone from fighting to stay on the second string to getting a clear shot at the first unit.
"Things are falling into place, kind of clicking for me," Daniel said Tuesday. "That's allowing me to play faster."
Therein lies a simple rule of the position: Don't slow down and think. You can't afford it in major-college football, and Daniel is catching on to that.
"Armonze is one of those kids, he wants to do everything perfect," said Chris Rippon, MU's defensive coordinator. "It's out of his character to play on the edge. He's also a guy that had been a safety, and when you move a guy to the linebacker position and things are happening so much faster, so much quicker, more intense, that tends to happen - they look like they're hesitating."