Born: May 5, 1989
Michael Wayne Daniels Jr. was born May 5, 1989 in Stratford and grew up in Blackwood. He combined a massive build with great speed and coordination to dominate in youth football. Mike attended Highland Regional High and joined the school’s legendary wresting program. He also starred for the track team in shot put and discus. Mike’s greatest impact for the Tartans came on the gridiron, however, where he was all-conference as a pass rusher and 230-pound running back. Mike racked up more than 2,000 yards as a runner and scored 25 touchdowns. He captained the Tartans as a junior and senior, when he was joined by his younger brother, Sean.
Perhaps because he was only 6 feet tall, Mike was overlooked by most college scouts. Villanova considered him linebacker material but worried about his weight. Iowa and Temple offered scholarships and he chose Iowa, red-shirting his freshman season. Sean would also be scouted by Temple and ended up playing there as a defensive end. Mike beefed up to 270 pounds in college and inspired his Hawkeye teammates with his tireless work ethic. He became a starter his junior year and earned honorable mention All-Big 10 honors. As a senior in 2011, Mike took his game to the next level, improving his strength and quickness off the ball. He was one of the top defensive tackles in the nation and led Iowa in sacks and tackles for a loss. He was named second-team All-Big 10 as Iowa finished 7–6. His final college game was a 31–14 loss to Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl.
The Green Bay Packers selected Mike in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. They liked his ability to read offensive sets and his elusiveness as a tackler and pass rusher. He began to make a splash in his second pro season with 6.5 sacks and earned a starting job in his third year, in 2014. He saw action in the playoffs each year from 2012 to 2016, recording 27 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 8 starts. By 2016, he was ranked among the NFL’s Top 100 players.
Mike signed a $42 million contract extension near the end of the 2015 season. He was three times a Pro Bowl alternate but did not see action until the 2018 game, when he replaced injured Aaron Donald. During the 2018 season, Mike injured his foot and was placed on injured reserve in December. The Packers let Mike walk following the 2018 season and he was signed by the Lions two days later. He appeared in three games for Detroit in 2019 as a pass rushing specialist before going on injured reserve for five games. He returned to play four more but was shut down for the year after reinjuring himself in a Week 15 loss to the Bucs.
Mike signed a free agent deal with the Bengals prior to the 2020 season.