Southern Miss

Southern Miss’ T’Rod Daniels may be ‘the fastest man in Mississippi’

Southern Miss running back T’Rod Daniels is turning heads in fall camp with his speed.
Southern Miss running back T’Rod Daniels is turning heads in fall camp with his speed. ttisbell@sunherald.com

Bassfield, Mississippi, has proven to be a speed factory for the region's top football programs and Southern Miss happens to be the tiny town's biggest beneficiary at the moment.

There are currently five Bassfield products on the USM roster and the most recent addition may be the quickest of them all. Junior running back T'Rod Daniels is in his first season at USM after transferring in from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

If you want to know how fast Daniels is, just ask his coaches and teammates.

"Oh yeah, I've seen the speed," USM senior running back Ito Smith said. "That dude can fly."

During Saturday's USM football media day, Daniels took the time to answer the question that's been asked time and time again, "Why is the Bassfield's football program so fast?"

"I guess cuz we're out in the country," Daniels answered. "Growing up, I just used to chase horses, cows. Me and my brother, we used to always be in a pasture with horses. We'd walk the roads every day, running the roads, racing, doing what country boys do."

Daniels, who says he wasn't always the fastest on a football field in Bassfield, points back to a time when he was 14 years old and coming off an injury when he suddenly started out-pacing his friends and teammates.

"After the rehab, I came out and started racing," Daniels said. "They said, 'Man, you fast!' I was beating everybody. I was the fastest at Bassfield. After that, I just went to Gulf Coast and I was the fastest there."

If Smith, USM's best player, is labeling Daniels the fastest player at Southern Miss, it's a safe bet that's the case.

Daniels shied away from that title on Saturday.

"That's what they say, but I don't like to hype," Daniels said. "They labeled me as the fastest man in Mississippi, but I don't bite on that. But I'm very fast."

Senior cornerback Curtis Mikell, senior cornerback Cornell Armstrong, senior safety Jomez Applewhite and redshirt freshman linebacker Racheem Boothe are the four other former Bassfield standouts at USM this season. All five players from Bassfield are on pace to either start or to receive significant playing time this season for the Golden Eagles.

Daniels may very well be the fastest player on the team, but he has some serious competition from a former teammate of his at Bassfield.

USM head coach Jay Hopson pointed Saturday to a moment in a scrimmage where Daniels broke free for a big run.

"I knew T'rod was fast, but then he broke loose and Curtis got him, I was like 'Good gosh!'" Hopson said. "When he broke lose, I though 'Bye. He's gone, that's a touchdown.’ Both of them are maybe sub 4.3 (in the 40-yard dash). Both are at least 4.35 guys. There's probably only one guy on the football team that could have caught him and that was Curtis."

As a member of the kickoff return unit, Daniels has a chance to provide the big play on special teams as well.

Daniels will be part of a talented batch of running backs that will be led by Smith and redshirt junior Tez Parks.

He hasn't played a snap yet at USM, but Daniels already has a big fan in USM offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson.

"He brings speed and a great attitude," Dawson said. "That kid loves to compete. I love being around that kid. He has a great, infectious attitude."

Daniels is happy to play a supporting role to Smith, who has hit the 1,000-yard mark in each of the last two seasons.

"I'm just here to help him out as much as possible," Daniels said. "He's a great back, a great guy. He's helping me out when I have questions. I'm just coming here to do what they recruited me for, running the ball and blocking. I'm helping him out. I know he's going to get tired and need a break."

Patrick Magee: 228-896-2333, @Patrick_Magee

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