Change Of Heart Has Daniels Staying Close To Home At UConn
October 7, 2020
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Change Of Heart Has Daniels Staying Close To Home At UConn
MERIDEN, Ct. - A change in college plans has Ryan Daniels excited about his baseball future at the next level.
“Growing up in-state, I had a friend with season tickets to UConn football and basketball,” Daniels reflected. “Both of my grandparents are huge fans of UConn women’s basketball. It’s one of my dad’s favorite teams. It’s all in the family.”
Now Daniels is a big fan, too, after making a commitment to the Big East Conference school after a recent change of heart about going south for college.
“I committed to Stetson in the winter of eighth grade but decided to decommit after I went to the (New England) Committed Combine,” Daniels said in reference to the PBR event in July.
The decision was not an easy one.
“I would not recommend it,” Daniels said of committing at such a young age. “When I got an offer in eighth grade my eyes lit up. It was such a good school I couldn’t say no. But as a 13-year-old what do you know? I thought it over and going that far with a school like this so close … it’s 45 minutes to an hour from home.
“It wasn’t that anyone did anything wrong, it’s what was best for me. It had nothing to do with Stetson.”
Instead, it was what Connecticut had that convinced the Avon Old Farms junior that staying home was the right choice to make.
“The new field, the new locker rooms, the program and the success they’ve had the last 10 years with the most wins in college baseball,” Daniels listed off reasons why UConn was the perfect fit. “With the recent success and how many they put in the big leagues, not just the minor leagues, it’s right for me.
“I know a lot about the coaching staff, too. They made a big impact. Plus, playing around the state and seeing all the UConn commits you know. It’s a Who’s Who of players. I really like the kids that are going there.”
Making the university in Storrs a future home came after the stress involved with a decommitment..
“I wasn’t worried about what would happen after decommitting, I knew I’d find a place, but it was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life,” Daniels admitted. “It was extremely hard, you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings when it was nothing they did that was wrong.”
Soon after, the top-ranked 2022 shortstop in New England was a commit to Connecticut, a program that has had five straight seasons of 30-plus victories while making six appearances in the NCAA Tournament in the past decade .
“UConn was my only offer, it was so quick,” Daniels related. “Virginia and Michigan were others I was talking with, but I knew UConn was the perfect fit. I can play right away and make an impact as a freshman.”
UConn came away impressed with what they saw in the 6-0 175-pounder at the PBR event in the summer, which included a big increase in numbers from the Northeast Procase in February. Daniels infield velo went from 78 to 83, his exit velo improved from 83 to 95 and his time in the 60 was lowered from 7.15 to 6.72.
“Definitely my hit tool,” Daniels said of what stood out the most to Connecticut. “My fielding is good and my arm is fine, I’m working on that, but my hitting defines me.”
It had the 12th-rated New England junior thinking about baseball beyond high school at a young age.
“I’ve based my whole life around it,” Daniels reflected. “I kind of knew in sixth grade I’d probably play college baseball. In seventh grade I knew something would come from this when I started to hit home runs. In eighth grade I started to get interest from the highest schools.”
The 108th-ranked 2022 shortstop in the nation believes he can be a major contributor to the UConn program.
“I’m a hard worker in the classroom so I can help with the team GPA,” noted Daniels. “I enjoy helping people when they ask questions and I’m a good teammate that picks people up. On the field my skills can help there.”
Daniels pointed to a number of people that have been beneficial in a baseball journey that now has him staying close to home.
“My dad played at the collegiate level and has definitely been a major influence,” Daniels said. “We have a cage in the backyard and he’s always pushing me to my highest level.
“All the coaches at The Grind have also been big,” Daniels added, listing Connor David, Matt Untiet and Mike Morris. “Connor helps with life and weight lifting. He’s like my second father.”
The recruiting process was enjoyable, even the second time around for the 488th-rated junior in the country.
“Some people find it super stressful but I tried to be laid back and let it play out,” Daniels explained. “Fortunately, people came to me. All that hard working paid off in the form of people asking you to play for their program.”
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