Daniel returns to "second home"

Saturday, December 29, 2007 | 9:30 p.m. CST; updated 11:48 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

IRVING, Texas — When Chase Daniel was a child, his parents could sense what he might hold in the future.

He didn’t want to play with Teddy Ruxpin bears or toy guns, said Vickie Daniel, his mother. He always begged to have a ball in his hands.

“All of the time he was wanting just to play sports. That’s all he ever wanted to do — before he even knew really what sports was,” Vickie Daniel said.

With support and guidance from his parents, Chase Daniel became an elite athlete. After honing his talents and channeling his competitive streak, the star quarterback is earning new toys to enjoy and living up to his name.

The Daniels live in Southlake, 25 miles northwest of Dallas, but Bill and Vickie Daniel were together with their son at a familiar place Saturday — Texas Stadium. “This is a second home to him,” said Vickie Daniel, watching her son practice with the Tigers.

When leading his high school, Southlake Carroll, to a state championship in 2004, Chase Daniel played five of his six playoff games in the Cowboys’ home, where five Super Bowl banners hang over the field and an iconic blue star is at midfield.

That potential was apparent to Bill and Vickie Daniel when their son was young. Chase Daniel started hitting a plastic ball with a bat when he was 2 and started to star in organized baseball and football leagues when he was 7.

His parents weren’t surprised. The Daniels are athletic. Vickie Daniel is a runner. Bill Daniel played baseball at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Chase Daniel didn’t start off directing offenses, however. He was a running back and linebacker before switching to his current position when he was 10. “I guess that’s how he got his linebacker mentality,” Bill Daniel said.

He hasn’t forgotten the lessons he learned from his first snaps. He welcomes collisions. After suffering a concussion in the season opener against Illinois, he missed only one play.

Like parents sending their math whiz to a magnet school, Bill and Vickie Daniel supported the enhancement of their son’s gifted athletic skills. They made the commitment when he was 10. They were willing to get him a pitching or hitting coach or put him in fast-twitch training programs to improve his quickness and speed.

But before their son started his development, his parents made sure he was committed as well. The activities were expensive. But Chase Daniel assured them.

That discussion continues to this day. At the end of every conservation with his son, Bill Daniel reminds him, “Leave it all on the field.”

“Yes, sir,” his son responds.

But Chase Daniel doesn’t need much encouragement. He has inherited a competitive fire and intense focus from his family. His grandfather, William Daniel, was in the Air Force for 21 years. Bill Daniel was a pilot in the Navy.

Defeat has always devastated Chase Daniel. When he was 11, his baseball team lost the city championship. He cried. “That was the only way he could show his frustration,” Bill Daniel said.

His father tried to compose him. “Sit down there for a second and get a hold of yourself,” Bill Daniel said.

Another parent approached Bill Daniel. “You might not know what you have here. I think he just loves to win, and he’s that type of personality,” he told him.

“You’re probably right,” Bill Daniel replied.

He certainly was. Winning drives Chase Daniel. And so do its incentives.

When he found his father after Missouri defeated Kansas last month, he had one thing on his mind. “The first thing he says is not, ‘Hi, Dad.’ He says, ‘Dad, we’re going car shopping,’” Bill Daniel said.

Chase Daniel was getting a new pickup truck. His father had promised to buy one for him if the Tigers won the Big 12 Conference North Division this season. But the purchase was guaranteed even before the Tigers’ victory against the Jayhawks. After Chase Daniel kept up his grades and entered the Heisman Trophy race, his father was impressed. You have earned your new truck, he told his son before the Kansas game.

Bill Daniel gave his son a used 2006 black Lincoln LT on Saturday, replacing his bright red 2001 Ford F-150. Chase Daniel had learned to drive in the truck with chrome wheels and Flowmasters, an exhaust system which makes small vehicles growl like monster trucks.

That bright pickup fits his personality. The confident quarterback bounces around during practice and games with infectious energy.

His nature is like his name, which is actually his middle name. He shares his first name, William, with his father and grandfather.

“I liked the name Chase, and I thought it would be a good name for a boy,” Vickie Daniel said. “Come to find out, it suited him so perfectly. As a little boy, and even now — he hasn’t changed at all — he’s just always moving around.”

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