The “Two Wills,” McDaniel and Long part of talent-laden freshman class
The most famous formula for success around Centre’s football program is “C6H0.” We have before written about that particular anomaly and just why and how it is significant, not only to Centre College, but to all of college football.
There is another formulaic component being born on the roster of the ’21 Colonel football team and this one may prove more daunting for Centre opponents in future seasons than it figures to be during the one immediately upcoming. There are two highly decorated, former high school football stars, both named Will, and both working hard to get noticed among the many talented upperclassmen on this year’s Colonel football team.
The two players being referenced are Will McDaniel and William Long. For our purposes, we refer to the tandem simply as Will2.
Will McDaniel is a local boy from Danville, Kentucky with whom Boyle Countians are certainly familiar. His grandfather is the second winningest football coach in Centre’s long and illustrious history. His father, Tim, is the school’s all-time leading rusher.
The youngest McDaniel was the KFCA (Kentucky Football Coaches Association) Class 4A Player of the Year and made the AP All-State Football Team in ‘20. McDaniel is a freshman RB in the ’25 class.
The “other Will,” William Long, is a former three-time AP All-Stater, two time Jackson Times-Voice, District 7, Defensive Player of the Year, and a player who made the AP’s first-team in ’20 as both an OL and a DL. He plays DL at Centre College and is also a member of the ’25 class.
Now for anyone expecting either freshman to trot out on the field and take his place among the first or second-strings immediately, you obviously don’t know much about the status of Centre’s roster or college football in general. Both of these ballyhooed boys will have to earn it.
Neither of them will be given anything. Neither of them will factor much into the distribution of snaps on the team’s play rotation, at least not initially. Who knows what the future holds for either of them as this season rolls along.
However, that said, each of the Wills has had his moments in Fall camp and in regular, game-week practice as Centre braces for its upcoming opener. We got an opportunity to interview the two Wills, William Long being a Breathitt product and Will McDaniel having played his senior year for a Breathitt “native son” and favorite former player, Justin Haddix.
The below is that interview. As is our custom, the paper’s questions will be headed by the initials, “JTV.” Will McDaniel’s responses will be headed by the initials, “WM” while William Long's answers will be initialed, “WL.”
JTV: How do you like Centre football so far and how different is it from your high school experience?
WM: It has been a lot of fun and enjoyable. A main difference is you are now playing with guys from all over not just people you grew up with.
WL: I love Centre so far. Each day I am reminded that I could not have made a better choice to attend college.
It is different than my high school experience for all of the natural reasons. I am away from home, the college curriculum is naturally more challenging, etc.
College football, especially at a "championship program (Centre is no stranger to SAA Championships)” is as fun as anything for which I could have hoped. We, as players and as men, are held to a very high standard on the field and in our community.
I can see clearly the benefits my being a Colonel will provide. These benefits will come both on and off the field of play.
JTV: What do you foresee your roll being this Fall and how different is it than to what you are accustomed?
WM: I’m not quite sure what my role will be this fall but whatever it is I’m just gonna go out and have fun and play.
WL: This will be a different year for me. My plan is to help this football team get better each and every day, and there are many ways to do that other than sacking the quarterback.
I can be a great teammate. I can give encouragement to my teammates. I can be one of the best pre-snap communicators in the country, regardless of whether I am on the field or on the sideline.
JTV: Who are some of the other young guys feeling their way but showing flashes of “coming on” in your signing class?
WM: I think that there are probably too many to name. I think our class has quite a bit of talent and it is seen all over the field.
WL: Will McDaniel and Tyler Vaughn should get some varsity play, which is rare at Centre College. I believe our class will be a great one, but that won't be quantified until later in our careers.
JTV: How difficult is the transition from being “The Man” on a roster to being one of “The Men” on a roster?
WM: I never really thought of it like that in high school but I like the challenge of being a freshman and being a low man on the totem pole.
WL: I try to avoid emphasizing my own role and focus on what I can do to help the team. In high school, for me at least, it was more about the team and its having success than my being The Man.
The same goes for the current situation. Coach Frye likes to say, "a player that makes a team great is better than a great player." For me, it's all about being a player that makes the team great.
JTV: How good do you believe Centre can be this coming year?
WM: I think we can be a really good team and we have a lot of potential.
WL: I believe that, barring injury, we should be very good. The success we have this year should carry over into the years to come.
We have a culture that is unlike anything I've experienced first-hand - a culture that breeds success on and off the field and it breeds success well after playing football. I am excited to take on this season and I think we can renew our championship-winning ways this fall.
JTV: Who are some of the older guys who have made your way easier so far and who you most admire?
WM: Riley Hall, Patrick Edwards, Keaton Martin, and the entire running back group to be honest. They are great guys and we all help each other out.
WL: It would be impossible to go through a list of names without leaving someone off who has meant a lot to me so far. Playing on this team has been like getting to play football beside all of your role models.
The older guys on the D-Line have been instrumental in getting me and the other freshman D-Linemen acclimated into the college life. That acclimation is a difficult one both on the field and off.