Akron football's elder statesman to appear tonight on the RSR

Updated 9/28/1972

Question & Answer With The Elder Statesman of Akron Football: Jeremiah Danielson

Jeremiah Danielson is the starting left guard on The University of Akron football team. He also is one of the oldest players on the Division I-A college gridiron.

Born Sept. 28, 1972 in American Samoa, Danielson graduated from Evergreen High School in suburban Seattle, Wash., in 1990. He had scholarship offers to play football out of high school, but chose to work instead. Three years later, he enlisted in the Navy and later became part of the Presidential Honor Guard, which performs funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery. He also handled official tasks at the White House, the Pentagon and flew to California to help conduct Richard Nixons funeral. In addition, his unit was selected for two scenes in the Harrison Ford movie "Clear And Present Danger." After four years in the Navy, Danielson enrolled at City College of San Francisco and began his college football career. The Rams went 22-2 over Danielsons two seasons.

One day after practice, his junior college coach pulled him out of the shower to meet someone. Wearing only a towel, Danielson met Akron coach Lee Owens. He had never heard of Akron, but was willing to listen. He signed with the Zips soon after and joined the team for spring drills in 1999. The 6-2, 280-pounder can bench press 500 pounds and is the strongest Zip football player.

Q: Whats the difference between 18-year old Jeremiah Danielson and 28-year old Jeremiah Danielson?

A: The difference is maturity. Im thinking about life. As an 18-year old it was more about having fun and hanging out with friends. I wasnt serious about anything. As I got older, things became more serious. My decisions today determine my future. Im soon to be married and its all about having a career and being able to take care of my family someday.

Q: Is this final season of college football kind of like a "last fling"?

A: I have a chance to close that other part of my life. I started it in high school and I wish I could go back and start all over again. Id do it in a heartbeat. I always wanted to play college football. Fortunately, I was given another opportunity and I took advantage of it.

Q: What advice do you have for young college athletes?

A: Its their fate. If they mess up in the beginning, its going to be hard to start all over. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. I turned down scholarship offers (out of high school) and I regretted that decision. Take the right path and set high goals. Once you set that goal in life, dont give up because quitting is the easiest way out, and you don't want to take the easiest way out.

Q: What was it like to grow up in American Samoa?

(American Samoa is a group of six Polynesian islands in the South Pacific. Fourteen degrees below the equator, it is the United States' southern-most territory. It is known as the heart of Polynesia. If you drew a triangle from Hawaii, New Zealand and Tahiti you would find Samoa in the middle. American Samoa became a U.S. territory in 1900)

A: Realize that American Samoa is very small (76 square miles). It might be a 45-minute drive from one end to the other. I grew up in a family in which my dad believed in spanking us. He wanted us to know right from wrong and to respect others, especially your elders. Parents not only told us how to live, but they set the standard themselves. They are really strict about kids staying in school and believe in discipline.

Q: What was the makeup of your family?

A: I was one of nine children and am the third oldest.

Q: What life lessons did you learn after four years in the Navy?

A: I developed maturity. I learned how to take on responsibilities. They taught me how to take care of myself. When I went into the service, I didnt know how to fold my clothes or wash my own clothes. I was always dependent on my sisters or my mom to clean up after me. There were a lot of responsibilities given to me that I never used to do at home, and I was able to do them all. I became a man in the Navy.

Q: How do you define patriotism?

A: When we performed (funeral) ceremonies for military people, I felt a sense of gratitude. I owed it to them to perform the service to the best of my ability. My freedom is because of them. They sacrificed for this country.

Q: Describe Arlington National Cemetery in one word?

A: Bravery.

Q: Do you have an interest in politics?

A: No, not really.

Q: Who will you vote for in the November presidential election?

A: Off the top of my head, probably (George W.) Bush.

Q: What do remember most about the filming of "Clear And Present Danger"?

A; It was cold. It was during the winter time. And it was all day for two days. I had never seen a Hollywood movie set. But, it was fun for me. We took pictures with the stars. I now get to see myself in a movie. I can actually pause (the tape) and see where I was standing. The number of repetitions was incredible. Its all about movement. Action. Cut. Action. Cut. O.K. You guys move over here It was just like that for hours. They put so much time and effort into one brief scene. I have a greater respect for actors, having to stayed focused over such a long day. Its all about preparation.

Q: Did you meet Harrison Ford?

A: Yes. In his movies, he looks to be tall; but, I was surprised, he might be 5-11, six feet. He was very soft spoken. We, of course, were star struck. He explained he was there to do a job: to shoot the scene. So, he didnt want the photographs and autographs to go on all day, which was understandable.

Q: What is your most memorable moment from Richard Nixons funeral?

A: When they played taps. We were standing there after the 21-gun salute and it was silent. I can remember everyone was crying. It was sad that a President had passed away.

Q: Physically, is football any more difficult at 28 vs. 18?

A: (Chuckle) In a way, yes. Because at 18 you can basically do anything. You can run and hardly ever get tired. Now, I have to get ice on my knees and legs and get ready for the next practice. As an 18-year old, I didnt have to do that. I can still do the workouts. I just need more (recuperation) time.

Q: How did you attain the goal of being able to bench press 500 pounds?

A: My service with the Navy ended on Jan. 16 (1997) and I started at City College of San Francisco on Jan. 17. I was able to bench between 450 and 480 pounds at that time. I told myself that before I leave junior college I am going to bench 500 pounds. I kept working hard. For me, it as an accomplishment. Now Im able rep 415 pounds eight or nine times. Im confident I can bench more than 500, but after a muscle pull in my chest, Ive tried not to overdo it with one big rep.

-Akron Sports Information