Jermaine McDaniel Jr. came to Appalachian State with a winning pedigree.
The defensive end hails from South Carolina, where he played at Dillon High School from 2013 to 2016.
The Wildcats went to a state title game in all four seasons McDaniel spent with the program, winning three straight titles in his first three years (two Class I-AA and one Class AAA).
He’ll admit that standard played into his college decision, which led him to Boone.
“You don’t want to drop off. In this game, you get rings for winning. I got three. Four including the one from last year,” McDaniel said. “And I’m trying to stack some more because them things look good. They look real good on my finger."
McDaniel’s senior season ended (a 29-27 loss to Chapman) on Dec. 17, 2016. That same day, the Mountaineers won their second-straight bowl game, a 31-28 win against Toledo in the Camellia Bowl.
Since then, Appalachian has won the Dollar General Bowl following the 2017 season and is already eligible for a bowl game this season. They’ve also claimed back-to-back shares of Sun Belt Conference titles.
McDaniel was redshirted last season. A defensive end at Dillon, he said Appalachian worked him at linebacker before eventually bringing him back to the edge.
The freshman is third on the team in sacks with two, getting both against Gardner-Webb. He’s become a steady contributor for a defensive-line group that shifts in players throughout the game.
Coach Scott Satterfield said that McDaniel, like many talented true freshman, fought to stand out on the scout-team defense. He’s strong, Satterfield said, but McDaniel pairs that with the ground he can cover.
And frankly, the coach said, he’s brings a different dynamic.
“He’s got the length to be able to bat balls down,” Satterfield said. “. . . It’s a good change up I think. As you know, we rotate a lot of our defensive linemen and get them in and out of the game. But it’s just a good change up having to go against those O-linemen, something different for them to block.
McDaniel admitted that the initial transition to App State was difficult. He said he came in as a high school player who had no issue imposing his will on that level. McDaniel’s said he’s learned that it takes much more effort at the college.
Especially for a guy trying to grow a ring collection.
“You’ve got to work for it. . . Coach (Mark) Ivey has us working around here everyday and twice on Sundays,” McDaniel joked.