Darrion Daniels was dejected and emotional. He just learned his football season — and possibly his college career — was over.

A torn tendon in his left pinky required surgery, and ended his senior year at Oklahoma State after four games. He needed to talk to someone. He dialed his brother.

Damion Daniels, a redshirt freshman defensive lineman at Nebraska, listened and consoled. But before the conversation ended, the Husker worked in a joke: You should come play with me.

Darrion laughed, but the idea stuck with him. Three months later, it became a reality as the 6-foot-3, 320-pound D-lineman signed with NU on Friday as a graduate transfer. Nebraska announced the news on social media as its Class of 2019 bumped to 24 scholarship signees in the early signing period.

Daniels — who will have one season in Lincoln — had offers to join Texas Tech, Mississippi, Auburn, LSU and others for his final season. But the notion of lining up with his brother was too tempting to pass up. They played together for one season at Bishop Dunne High in Dallas before an injury to Damion wiped out the possibility of another.

“I didn’t really have the opportunity to fully grasp and live in the moment of actually playing with my brother,” Darrion said Friday. “Me playing with him in high school was good while it lasted. But me playing with him on a bigger stage, that would really make my college career. As a whole, I feel complete, even though I feel like I didn’t do everything I wanted to do accoladeswise.”

Darrion Daniels had 64 tackles and two sacks in four seasons at OSU and was a vocal leader this year, even traveling on road trips after his injury. His best season was 2017, when he started 10 games while logging 26 tackles — five for loss — half a sack and two pass breakups. He earned the Vernon Grant Award for outstanding leadership, spirit and enthusiasm after the campaign.

Tony Daniels — a former 250-pound All-America D-lineman at Texas Tech in the mid-1990s — told The World-Herald his older son is even better rushing the passer and stopping the run than he showed at OSU, where he mainly played on early downs.

“I think he’ll fit in this scheme a lot better,” Tony Daniels said. “I don’t think they’ve seen leadership like what he’s going to bring to the table. I think (Nebraska) has got another jewel coming.”

The elder Daniels said that while Damion is best suited for nose tackle, or defensive tackle in a four-man front, Darrion can thrive anywhere on the line. Known around Oklahoma State for his singing and high motor, he’ll also motivate Damion in ways that only an older brother can.

“Damion is that risk taker and Darrion is the conservative type,” Tony Daniels said. “Baby brother would try to outdo him and Darrion wouldn’t let that happen. At the end of the day, Damion should get a lot of credit for how Darrion participates in athletics. I think it’s going to be a good deal, those guys being together.”

Darrion Daniels will enroll in January at Nebraska, though he wasn’t always sure this was where he would end up. He didn’t even know transferring was possible until Damion sent him an article at midseason explaining the new NCAA rules. Darrion visited Lincoln for the Minnesota game, when Oklahoma State had an off week, and thought some more about his sibling’s offer, though his main focus remained with his OSU teammates. After praying about it for days, he informed Cowboy coaches of his decision Dec. 3.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy had said in September he hoped “like crazy” Darrion would return. But he revisited the situation with local reporters after hearing from the two-year starter.

“We lost a defensive lineman, a 325-pounder. It’s hard for us to find those guys,” Gundy said. “They don’t grow that many of ’em around here, so I hated to see that. (Darrion) came in and said he wanted to play his last year with his brother. Short conversation.”

Coach Scott Frost said Wednesday that additional signatures could be arriving before the early signing period concluded Friday. 

“If we have spots after (Wednesday), it’s going to be the best we can get,” Frost said, “guys that fit us the best whether it’s a grad transfer, a junior college kid or a high school kid.”

The NFL is likely the next destination for Darrion, who will pursue a master’s degree in applied sciences at NU. For now, he’s ready to help at a position of need and reignite a sibling rivalry that has raged between the two since childhood.

“If he’s squatting 600 pounds, I’m going to squat 602.5 pounds just to have that edge over him,” Darrion said. “But just being in the same jersey as my brother next year already makes it a success.”

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