Talking about his best attributes on a baseball field, Ben McDaniel said his son, Brice, has the perfect mental makeup.
“He is constantly level-headed,” said Ben McDaniel, who is Columbus North’s head baseball coach.
It appears that Brice McDaniel is level-headed away from the baseball field as well. Earlier this week, he made a verbal commitment to play baseball at Purdue. While the recruiting process was just beginning to heat up for Brice McDaniel, a sophomore first baseman, he saw something at Purdue that was just as important to him as baseball.
“I want to be an engineer,” Brice McDaniel said.
How could his dad argue with that reasoning?
“It was definitely early (to make a decision),” Ben McDaniel said. “And I wanted him to enjoy the recruiting process. But Purdue came along and made him a very good offer.
“In the end, I don’t know that he would have found a better fit.”
The academic part of the equation was huge for the McDaniels, but they also believe Purdue has an up-side on the diamond as well.
Although the Boilermakers never have advanced to the College World Series, they did post a 45-14 record in 2012 under current head coach Doug Schreiber and earned the program’s second NCAA Regional berth.
Ben McDaniel said he likes the stability Purdue has shown with Schreiber leading the program since May 1998.
The team struggled last season and is just 12-29 this year.
On the positive side, Purdue opened state-of-the-art Alexander Field Stadium last season.
“The field is amazing,” Brice McDaniel said. “It’s brand new and it’s grass, which I like better than turf. I love the campus, and it’s the best coaching staff that I had met.
“If I had waited, maybe there could have been a few more schools involved, but I didn’t let it get to the point where it was super hectic.”
Brice McDaniel, who also was a defensive starter on North’s football team, is hitting .441 through 11 games with 10 runs scored and six RBI.
At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, McDaniel has the frame that baseball scouts love.
“He is a physical kid and very athletic,” Ben McDaniel said of his son. “He hits to all fields with power, and he can move. He definitely is solid at first base. He made one error in 26 games last season and none this year.”
Brice McDaniel was in junior high school when he started to think that baseball might be a key to his future.
“Growing up, it’s every kid’s dream to play MLB (Major League Baseball),” he said. “In my eighth-grade year, I sat back and thought about it. I knew I had some natural talent.”
But he also knew natural talent wasn’t enough. He would have to increase his athletic and academic workload to reach his goals.
“Going into his freshman year, I honestly thought it would be football for him,” Ben McDaniel said. “But he has what it takes to play baseball. He understands that he is going to fail.”
Although he has committed to Purdue, Brice McDaniel will continue to play football at North.
His father said the Purdue baseball coaching staff encouraged him to play multiple sports.
“Brice broke his leg his freshman season and broke his wrist last season and had a concussion,” Ben McDaniel said. “But in this household, we love football.”
Ben McDaniel is a rookie head coach at North, and he said he asked Brice if it was OK before he accepted the job.
“You always are harder on your own kid,” Ben McDaniel said. “I realized when he was 13 that he needed to be coached by other guys. My kid was tuning me out.”
The younger McDaniel admitted that it can be tough when your dad always doubles as your coach.
“It’s not that bad anymore,” Brice McDaniel said. “I know he always has my best interests in mind. He knows if he needs to say something to me, I will fix it.
“But there is a little added pressure when your dad is the coach. If you are slumping, people see where you are hitting in the order and say, ‘Your dad is the coach.’ I like to prove them wrong.”
Ben and Valerie McDaniel also have a younger son, Hayden, who is an 11-year-old at Parkside.
Since NCAA coaches are not allowed to comment on an athlete before he signs his letter of intent, Schreiber could not comment on Brice McDaniel.