Kash Daniel, AKA the baddest dude in college football, was everything and more at SEC Media Days
HOOVER, Ala. — Media members patiently waited for Kash Daniel to arrive at his stage for SEC Media Days.
Kentucky teammates Lynn Bowden and Logan Stenberg had already been at their respective stages answering questions in the main media room for several minutes. Roughly 10 minutes ticked off until Daniel finally entered the main ballroom. There might as well have been WWE intro music blaring from the speakers (a Kentucky fan in the lobby did have a “Kash 3:16” sign that Daniel very much approved of).
As Daniel walked to the corner of the room, he took exception to where his stage was … and that he wasn’t on the same main stage that SEC coaches speak on.
“They’ve got this big stage up here and they put me in the corner?” Daniel said under his breath as he took his seat.
“What’s going on? Y’all good?”
A media member then asked Daniel, “you ready for this stage?”
“Man, I was built for this stage,” Daniel said.
And thus began 25 electric minutes with the baddest dude in college football.
You name it, it was discussed. Kentucky’s offseason of disrespect? It came up, though Daniel refrained from calling Kentucky’s doubters “jack—–” like he did a couple weeks ago. Why didn’t he come out rocking a suit without sleeves like “Wild Thing” in the movie, “Major League?” As Daniel said, “that’s something Odell (Beckham) would do.”
Instead, Daniel discussed what he was wearing (he likes suits now). On his full-sleeved gray blazer was a Stark pin from “Game of Thrones.” Flowing, wavy hair slicked back in a man bun on top — he wants to have it shoulder-length by Week 4 — was all part of a G.O.T. look he was going for.
“You see my hair? I look like Jon Snow with this thing,” Daniel said. “It’s just a great show and a great character and something I know Twitter fans will get a kick out of.”
(In case you were wondering, he was NOT pleased with the show’s ending.)
Daniel’s Twitter usage has been a popular topic of conversation this offseason following Kentucky’s historic 10-win season. Fitting it was that he had this tweet ahead of Media Days.
SEC Media Day ready! pic.twitter.com/61PoXCX2z9
— Kash Daniel (@KashDaniel15) July 18, 2019
As for the non-Kentucky believers, well, Daniel used his words to address that on Thursday.
“Obviously there are still a lot of naysayers or doubters for us saying that we’re not gonna be a contender this year or be up to par what we were last year. And to those people, they didn’t see what we had in the afterburner behind Josh (Allen) and behind Benny (Snell),” Daniel said. “Some of the doubters are gonna be really surprised or the true fans will say, ‘We knew this the whole time.’”
Daniel still acts like the Paintsville High School (Ky.) junior who struggled to get Power 5 interest. His first Power 5 offer came from Mark Stoops, which led to a verbal commitment to Kentucky before the start of his senior year. Even though schools like Michigan tried to swoop in late after he earned U.S. Army All-America honors, Daniel remained committed to his home-state school because Stoops was the first coach to believe in him.
Stoops cites Daniel’s desire to represent the state of Kentucky and how much pride he takes in that. Daniel confirmed that notion.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed not only for myself but for my family, my hometown, my home region because where I’m from, there’s not a lot of positive light shined on it, and whenever light does get shined on it, it’s usually negative,” Daniel said. “For me to be able to use this as a platform to go out and make Eastern Kentucky and Paintsville, Kentucky proud, it’s a dream come true for me.”
The word “platform” is something that Daniel truly embraces. He came into his own in his first season as a starter in 2018.
If All-American Josh Allen was the heartbeat of the defense, Daniel was the voice of it.
Does that include trash talk? Duh.
“If I can find out girlfriend’s name, if I can just find names, that’s what I go for,” Daniel said. “Guys are like, ‘How did you know that?’ I’m telling you, man. Google is a scary machine.”
The roots of the name “Kash” were actually inspired by another Kentucky native who wasn’t afraid to talk trash. The “cool” story Daniel tells when asked about it is that his dad wanted to name him after Muhammad Ali, who was formerly Cassius Clay.
The “realistic” story is that Daniel’s aunt was originally going to name his cousin “Kash” but she changed her mind. That left the name available for Daniel’s mom to use.
But yeah, he’d rather tell people “cool” story. It’s definitely more fitting.
“I’ll take that one,” Daniel said. “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
Daniel seems like he could have a future in the ring, albeit in a different sport. He’s essentially a WWE wrestler trapped in an SEC linebacker’s body. He already did the best Stone Cold Steve Austin imitation imaginable after Kentucky beat Florida for the first time in 32 years.
AND THAT'S THE BOTTOM LINE 'CAUSE KASH DANIEL SAID SO!
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 9, 2018
Would he consider a future in the WWE after his football career raps up?
“I don’t know. That’s something that’d be a decision for later on down the road,” Daniel said. “But if the opportunity presented itself and everything rolled into place, it would be kinda hard to say ‘no’ to Vince McMahon.”
It might also sweeten the deal if Daniel had a tag-team partner to push him along. And yes, he already has a tag-team partner in Stenberg … and he already has a catchy name.
“It’d be like ‘The Brothers of Destruction,’” Daniel said. “We’d be just running through everybody. It wouldn’t even be fun. It’d be like, ‘One of these guys are gonna win.’”
In the more immediate future, Daniel is football-focused. He’s determined to lead Kentucky to another double-digit win season after the loss of Allen and Snell, which has been at the center of the offseason doubt about the Cats’ 2019 outlook. As for whether Daniel considered going to the NFL like his underclassmen teammates, here was the sequence of questions about that on Thursday.
Reporter: “Did you consider the NFL?”
Daniel: “Yeah, I’d consider the NFL.”
Reporter: “I meant what was the decision process like after your junior season to make that decision.”
Daniel: “Oh, I thought you were talking about as a career choice. I was like, ‘You’re damn right I’d consider the NFL.’”
There was, however, an even more pressing question that Daniel answered. It’s one that many have probably wondered since the Florida game last year.
Now that Kentucky had a 10-win season and the Florida streak is over, what kind of win would warrant Daniel bringing back the Stone Cold Steve Austin double water bottle chug?
“That’s a celebration that … unless you’re Stone Cold Steve Austin. You can do that whenever you want, however you want. That’s your move,” Daniel said. “But for me, that’s only like a milestone type move. Maybe winning the SEC East will do that or winning the SEC Championship will do that. But just to win in Weeks 1-12 anymore? Nah.”
That’s the expectation that Daniel raised in Lexington. He brought every bit of that confidence to Birmingham, where he was undoubtedly the most unique personality in attendance.
His post-Media Days plan was to ditch the suit for his customary team-issued flip flops, shorts and a cutoff t-shirt. That’s where he’s in his comfort zone.
By the time his 25 minutes on stage were up, Daniel looked more like a comfortable, shoot-it-straight dude than Jon Snow.
“Yeah, man. It’s just fun. I know I’m never gonna be able to do this again so I’m gonna take every opportunity I have and have some fun with it,” Daniel said. “There’s no reason to be up here like a stick-in-the-mud robot.”
Don’t worry, Kash. That’s the last thing you’ll be called.