Iowa junior center James Daniels has a decision to make

'He's earned the right to consider an NFL career'

Iowa Hawkeyes offensive lineman James Daniels (78) blocks Ohio State Buckeyes defensive lineman Tracy Sprinkle (93) and linebacker Malik Harrison (39) during the second half of a game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, November 4, 2017. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes offensive lineman James Daniels (78) blocks Ohio State Buckeyes defensive lineman Tracy Sprinkle (93) and linebacker Malik Harrison (39) during the second half of a game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, November 4, 2017. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

All of the talk of a Hawkeye leaving early for the NFL has centered on cornerback Josh Jackson.

For good reason. Jackson is a fourth-year junior who bought a Powerball ticket on himself and hit big in his first and maybe only year as a starter for the Hawkeyes. Jackson is tied for the nation’s lead with seven interceptions and leads the nation with 25 passes defended.

Jackson has said he will wait until after the Hawkeyes’ Pinstripe Bowl vs. Boston College (7-5) on Wednesday to announce his decision.

When asked about Jackson, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said Jackson wasn’t the only junior thinking about the NFL draft.

Junior center James Daniels submitted his name to the NFL draft advisory board and received a positive review, according to HawkeyeReport.com. This means the board sees Daniels as a first- or second-rounder.

The deadline for underclassmen to declare is Monday, Jan. 15.

During a Pinstripe Bowl teleconference Friday morning, Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz said he hadn’t heard the draft advisory board review and hadn’t had this conversation with Daniels.

“At some point, we’ll sit down and address that. James Daniels has done a heckuva job for us,” Ferentz said. “He’s been a good football player. He’s done all the things we’ve asked him to do. Certainly, he’s earned the right to consider an NFL career. He’s going to have to make a decision on what’s best for him.

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“But what’s best for our football program is to have him back. We hope to have him back. If he is, I expect him to continue to be a good football player for us.”

Center isn’t a demand position in the NFL. Last year, just five centers were drafted, with Ohio State’s Pat Elflein going in the third round to the Vikings. J.J. Dielman was the next center taken and he didn’t go until the fifth round. Financials? According to spotrac.com, Elflein signed a four-year deal worth $3.7 million with a signing bonus of just more than $900,000.

For what it’s worth, members of Iowa’s recruiting staff have started following potential centers on Twitter in the last couple of days.

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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