Commentary

Mich. footballer is human wrecking ball

Originally Published: April 1, 2010
By Joe Farris | Special to Page 2

TALAMAC, Mich. -- Fred McDaniels Jr. has spent the last three years crushing defenders and state records in route to earning the nickname "The Wrecking Ball." The 5' 10", 235 lb fullback has rushed for over 3,500 yards in each of his first three seasons, but only now, in the spring of his junior year, has he truly lived up to his on-field moniker.

McDaniels Jr. is spending his off-season working for his father's company, McDaniels Demolition -- which specializes in demolishing foreclosed structures. His job? Running through walls, literally.

"Yeah, I reckon it is pretty funny when you stop to think about it," said Fred McDanials Sr. "Of course, I wasn't joking when I hired him. I was just thinking about how to save a few bucks."

"I did the math," continued the elder McDaniels. "I used to have to pay someone $20 an hour to operate a bulldozer. Now I can get my son to do the same amount of work for half the price and a new pair of Nike AIR Trainer 1's."

The idea came to Mr. McDaniels back in October when he watched his son single handedly destroy their crosstown rivals in the Class 5A Conference Championship game. Fred Jr. exploded through the opposing team's defensive line for 411 yards and seven touchdowns in the blowout victory.

"I was just sitting there enjoying the game like everyone else when I heard the crowd chanting 'Wrecking Ball' over and over in support of my son," said McDaniels Sr. "A light just sort of went off and the next morning I asked Fred Jr. if he was interested in working for me after the season was over."

Junior was all for it. The week after he bulldozed the Talamac Titans to a State Championship, he was at his dad's jobsite in shoulder pads and helmet, ready to apply his powerful running style to the task at hand. And he's been knocking down walls ever since.

Not everyone in the football-obsessed community of Talamac has shared the McDanials family's enthusiasm for the idea. "My coach is afraid I'm gonna get hurt and some people in town say my dad's exploiting me," said Fred Jr. "But I get paid fair and it's a great workout. The fundamentals are the same as football -- stay low and drive with the legs, otherwise the wall wins."

Time will tell if an off-season spent as a one-man wrecking crew will help earn him a scholarship next year but one thing is clear: whether it's defensive lines or brick walls, Fred McDaniels Jr. is one football player who won't let anything stand in his way.

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