“Mr. Football.. This is awesome.” That was all Kash Daniel said in a tweet after winning Kentucky Mr. Football on Friday.
Daniel is a man of few words when it comes to his own accomplishments, always giving credit to teammates and coaches. Daniel helped build Paintsville into a state championship contender and built himself into an All-American. Before Daniel arrives on campus this month, let’s look back on one of the most prolific careers in Kentucky High School history.
Kash has always been more concerned about his team’s goals than his personal ones. “Kash is an incredible leader. He has been since he was in 6th grade. He is the hardest working kid that I have ever coached,” said Paintsville assistant coach Jason Kinner. Daniel was a key cog in a program that was built from nothing up to a contender in a span of three years. Paintsville went 3-8 in Daniel’s freshman season. The Tigers flipped the switch and went 8-4, 10-3, and 13-1 in the next three seasons. Daniel played QB and linebacker during his time at Paintsville. As the center of the defense, Daniel totaled 158 tackles and four forced fumbles in his senior season. Few players could alter a game like Kash did this season at linebacker. (Here’s proof)
Kash will play linebacker at UK in 2016, but he led the way for Paintsville on offense in 2015. Daniel threw for 22 touchdowns and ran for 15 more in 2015 as Paintsville jumped out to a 13-0 start. A sprained MCL kept Kash off the field in the state semifinals when the Tigers lost to Pikeville.
“Our goal was to win a state championship and put all the other stuff off to the side. We didn’t reach that goal and that’ll stay with me for the rest of my life,” said Daniel. Kash has an intense will to win. I was able to watch two Paintsville games in person this season as KSR’s Games of the Week. No one was more focused or more excited to play than Kash. How can anyone forget this speech before a game?
— Jonathan Dunn (@jdunnLEX18) October 1, 2015
So, Paintsville did not meet their goals as a team in 2015. But it was not from a lack of effort. Daniel and the rest of the team put on an incredible show and have built up their program from the ashes in a short span of time. Kash and the Tigers fell short of their goal as a team, but Kash’s individual dreams were accomplished.
Before the season, Kash and Kinner sat down to discuss what his goals would be as a senior that Kinner later posted on Instagram. The list included receiving a D1 offer, getting a star rating on Rivals, and winning Mr. Football.
This past January, Kash Daniel sat at my desk and we made a list ofâ€¦ https://t.co/VND4MK2dHH
— Jason Kinner (@jasonkinner1) January 1, 2016
Daniel began to receive offers this year from the likes of South Carolina and Louisville. When an offer from Kentucky rolled in, Daniel committed. The checklist was completed when it was announced today that Daniel was named Mr. Football.
The list was full of difficult challenges. Kash needed to work hard and put his nose to the grindstone if he was going to accomplish the amount that he planned in 2015. “My mindset was to not let anyone out work me and do whatever I got to do to make myself and my teammates better. And it’s an amazing feeling that I set goals for myself and reached every single one of them. But without the support of my coaches and my teammates it wouldn’t have been possible,” said Daniel.
Kash is the first UK signee to win the award since Patrick Towles in 2011. He is the first defensive player to win the award since Lamar Dawson in 2010. “It means a lot too me. But me getting this award was an overall team effort. My o-line, receivers, and my backs made this possible,” said Daniel.
The list that Coach Kinner and Kash made might need some additions following this season. Daniel will play in the Army All-American Bowl next Saturday at 1 p.m. on NBC. He is also up for the American Family Insurance Defensive Player of the Year at the Army Bowl.
The Army Bowl will bring together some of the top talent from across the nation, including Landon Young and Drake Jackson. “I’m looking to make friends with guys that’ll be playing all over the nation and I’m also looking to test myself against the best in the nation to prepare me to play in the SEC,” said Daniel.
It won’t be long (one day after the game) until Kash moves to Lexington to enroll early. “I’m real excited to get to work with my new brothers,” said Daniel. “It’s gonna be a big change for me, but I’m ready to accept all challenges that are thrown my way.”
With the rough stretch that the Kentucky program has gone through in the last month, it is exciting to know that Kentucky has a guy like Kash on the way. He has the highest integrity and work ethic of any player I watched this season. It’s great to see a team-first guy like Kash win an award like Mr. Football and go to the All-American Bowl. It will be fun to see another Eastern Kentucky Boy on the field for the Cats once again.
Daniel’s statement to Kentucky fans is simple. “Kentucky football is on the up-rise, just stay behind Coach Stoops, his staff, and the players and we’ll get it done.”