High School Football

He had several Power 5 football offers. Here’s where Braden River standout plans to play

Knowledge McDaniel finishes high school career

Knowledge McDaniel plays his last high school football game, with images from 2017-2018
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Knowledge McDaniel plays his last high school football game, with images from 2017-2018

Knowledge McDaniel is no longer looking for a place to play college football.

The Braden River High School senior three-star recruit committed to Marshall late Wednesday via Twitter.

A do-everything player, McDaniel was a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses during his career with the Pirates.

He began his career as a running back, before offensive coordinator Eric Sanders utilized his size and skill as a wide receiver to complement Deshaun Fenwick, who was a freshman at South Carolina last season, out of the backfield.

McDaniel’s play his junior season garnered several accolades, including the Bradenton Herald’s All-Area Player of the Year.

His meteoric rise led to offers from several Power 5 schools such as Ohio State, Georgia, Tennessee, Nebraska and more.

Knowledge McDaniel was one of Manatee County’s top playmakers during his time at Braden River High. Tiffany Tompkins ttompkins@bradenton.com

However, some of those schools cooled during his senior season as a result of penalties the Florida High School Athletic Association levied against the school.

McDaniel was ruled ineligible for the entire 2018 season for allegedly receiving improper benefits from a booster club member. Those benefits included receiving transportation to and from Braden River after his living situation changed late in his career, despite attending BRHS from the outset.

During his appeals hearing, the section appeals committee went back-and-forth on his reinstatement, ultimately leaving him to play in non-district games. At the time of the early September hearing, it meant having just three more games — spaced out over one per month — in his high school career.

McDaniel later received reinstatement for the remainder of the 2018 regular season, with no playoffs, at a mediation hearing at the FHSAA in Gainesville. The sectional appeals chairman, Tampa-area attorney Grady Irvin Jr., responded with a scathing letter imploring FHSAA executive director George Tomyn to let McDaniel play without restrictions, writing the appeals committee only ruled the way they did for fear their ruling would get overturned by the FHSAA Board of Directors.

Here are some highlights from the 2018 season for Manatee County football teams.

McDaniel also received an outpouring of support via social media and throughout the community, which included ESPN college basketball analyst and Lakewood Ranch resident Dick Vitale.

In lieu of that, McDaniel began securing his college football future with his commitment to Marshall, where he’s expected to play running back. His commitment is not binding until signing a letter of intent on National Signing Day, which is held Wednesday, Feb. 6, this year.

The West Virginia program has recruited the Manatee/Sarasota county area in the past, with former Braden River offensive lineman Alex Salguero, Sarasota Booker wide receiver Talik Keaton and Booker’s Artie Henry all on the Herd’s roster.

Sports reporter Jason has covered high school, college and pro sports since joining the Bradenton Herald in 2010. He’s won Florida Press Club awards for sports feature and column writing. He currently writes college and pro sports stories for the McClatchy East Region real-time team.