High School Football

ALL IN THE FAMILY

Taylor’s Daniels twins get it from dad

By Dennis Silva II | Sports Editor
Posted 10/7/20

Mike Daniels still has the game ticket in his wallet. It is proof of attendance, an assurance of reality, of December’s Class 6A-Division II state semifinal football game between the Taylor Mustangs, with his twin sons Marcus and Jordan as starting defensive ends, and eventual state champion Austin Westlake at McLane Stadium in Waco.

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High School Football

ALL IN THE FAMILY

Taylor’s Daniels twins get it from dad

Posted

Mike Daniels still has the game ticket in his wallet. It is proof of attendance, an assurance of reality, of December’s Class 6A-Division II state semifinal football game between the Taylor Mustangs, with his twin sons Marcus and Jordan as starting defensive ends, and eventual state champion Austin Westlake at McLane Stadium in Waco.

It’s a warm reminder of what was and an exciting reminder of what could be.

“I always said I’ll always keep that ticket, because maybe one day we’ll be back, or we’ll get further,” said Daniels, manager at Willy Burger in Old Town Katy since 2017. “That run was amazing, seeing those kids coming together.”

Since the fifth grade, Marcus and Jordan have played on the same football team. It started with tackle football in Katy Youth Football. It continued through sixth grade, when Marcus won a national championship on a loaded Katy All-American team co-founded by Mike. And it came together once again last season as juniors, when Taylor defensive coordinator J Jensen moved Jordan from receiver to defense right at the start of the playoffs, pairing him with his brother up front.

Now it’s the final hurrah for Marcus and Jordan as Mustangs, and maybe even playing together. They hope to play on the same college team at the next level, but that’s not a guarantee. So, for now, they’re soaking in every minute of this final senior ride, as key players for a driven Mustangs team.

Taylor is 2-0 following its 26-14 win over George Ranch on Oct. 1. The defense is allowing a stingy seven points per game.

“We have a lot of eyes on us and we have high expectations,” Marcus said. “There’s a lot of pressure on us. The goal is state.”

 

NEVER BACK DOWN

Daniels has tons of unforgettable memories of his boys. But particular ones do stand out.

Daniels will always remember Marcus’s face when he won the 2014 national championship in sixth grade. Their Katy All-American team—stacked with elite Class of 2021 Katy ISD recruiting prospects like Taylor’s Hayden Conner, Bryce Foster and Casey Shorter, and Tompkins’ Jalen Milroe—went 24-0 and won the title in Florida.

“To see his face after we won? That brought tears to my eyes,” Daniels said.

Daniels’ favorite story about Jordan came around the same time.

Jordan and Marcus played for the KYF championship in the fifth grade at Rhodes Stadium. Marcus fared well. Jordan, however, was taken aback by it all.

“The spotlight was too big for him,” Daniels said. “He was overwhelmed.”

So when Jordan skipped out on football his sixth-grade year but wanted to return for seventh grade, Daniels was touched. Jordan simply needed time. Daniels had desperately wanted him to play that sixth-grade year. Though teammates and coaches encouraged Jordan to return that year, he wasn’t ready.

“Having fun with the kids, he missed that,” Daniels said. “That year he missed, he still traveled with us to Florida for the national championship and everybody on the team still treated him as if he was on the team.”

Marcus and Jordan are naturally gifted athletically. They each stand 6-feet-2 and 210 pounds. They are strong and fast. Both competed on the Mustangs’ 4x100 relay during the track season earlier this spring. Marcus ran the second leg and Jordan was the anchor.

But what really makes them tick is their aggressiveness. It’s something they get from Dad.

“He’s always been a tough man growing up,” Jordan said. “I think his upbringing makes him who he is, as far as an aggressive, tough man. It rubs off on us.”

Jordan and Marcus are fighters on the field, as competitive as anyone. They are relentless. Nothing makes them happier than to see a quarterback scrambling for his life. Still, they are humble and respectful off it.

All traits of Daniels’s.

“He taught me how to man up in certain situations. Be tough,” Marcus said. “That’s what he teaches us.”

Daniels grew up on a country farm in Caldwell, Texas. He credits his aggressiveness to tending to animals under the demanding watch of his grandfather.

“I had to learn at an early age,” Daniels said. “Cows can be aggressive; horses can be aggressive. So, I learned to never be afraid because my grandfather would always push me. ‘Rope that cow.’ ‘Don’t you fall off that horse.’ ‘If they drag you, you better hold on.’ That’s just what it was. I knew I’d get a whooping if I didn’t.”

Daniels took that to the football field while playing cornerback and receiver at then-Spring Branch High and playing cornerback for a year at Lamar University.

“I might be short,” Daniels said, “but I never backed down.”

 

THEIR OWN CIRCLE

If you didn’t talk to Daniels about football or his childhood, you’d never know of his aggressive and competitive nature. Most people know Mike Daniels only as the friendly face at Willy Burger.

People are drawn to Daniels because of how he cares about and treats people. It’s often you’ll hear someone say Daniels is one of the nicest people they’ve ever met.

“He works hard every single night,” Jordan said. “A lot of people know him because of the work he puts in and how he cares about them. It’s cool. I’m so proud of him.”

Football doesn’t define Daniels. Quite the contrary. It’s a small part of what he’s about.

“I’m much more laid back now,” Daniels said. “I love people.”

Daniels’ respect for people has rubbed off on his boys. Coaches rave about the twins. ‘Yes, sir.’ ‘Yes, ma’am.’ Polite and courteous. Never disrespectful.

“They’re some great kids,” Daniels said. “They do a lot, they’re smart, they don’t get into trouble, they stay to themselves. Basically, they’re as one. They started playing sports and evolved into great men. I can’t ask for any better kids.”

Daniels’ dad was a twin. He has twin sisters who were born when he was 19 years old.

“Twins run in my family,” Daniels said, laughing. “I saw my sisters grow up as kids. They were best friends. Everywhere one went, the other went. It’s the same way with the boys. So, I already had an idea how it was going to be. When I found out we were having twins, I was like, ‘OK, here we go.’ They’re their own circle.”

Neither of Daniels’ siblings had twins as children.

“It skipped a generation to me,” he said.

It’s been as expected. Marcus and Jordan are hardly ever apart. Marcus is the quieter one, while Jordan is more outspoken. Other than that, that’s where the differences stop.

“It’s been crazy,” Marcus said. “You don’t see twins playing on opposite sides of each other on the football field. You don’t see that often. We’re the same person. Very similar.”

Added Jordan: “A lot of twins don’t like to be the same. I embrace it. I love having a twin brother.”

Their focus in the meantime is football. Not only the present, but in the future.

Daniels desperately wants his boys to play together at the same college. So far, Howard Payne University is the only school to offer that opportunity.

But if it doesn’t happen?

“I’ll be right there at every game, even if one’s on the west coast and one’s on the east coast,” Daniels said. “I’ll drive. I’ve stopped flying. But I’ll be there.

“I’m hoping they can stay together in college. I really do. But if not … them getting an education and to play some ball? I’m all for it.”

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