High School Sports

Northside’s Daley closer to joining Commodores

Northside celebrates Tae Daley's Vanderbilt signing

Northside head coach Kevin Kinsler said Daley sets an example of having high standards and a plan.
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Northside head coach Kevin Kinsler said Daley sets an example of having high standards and a plan.

The plan was put in place years ago.

Tae Daley didn’t know he would be part of a state championship team at Northside as a sophomore, and semifinalist as senior, nor how much he would be recruited.

But Northside head coach Kevin Kinsler saw a long time ago that there was more to Daley than just football.

“From the time he was in ninth grade, he had a plan,” Kinsler said. “I think even before he got to us in the ninth grade, he had a plan. He wanted to go to school (and) get an education that was gonna change his life. He was very driven towards that.”

Daley came one major step closer to turning the dream into reality Tuesday when he signed financial aid papers to attend Vanderbilt. He’ll graduate this month and be on campus in Nashville, Tennessee, before the College Football Playoff national championship next month. Classes begin at Vanderbilt on Jan. 9.

The papers commit Vanderbilt to Daley more than the other way around, but the Commodores can expect Daley to report on time.

Daley signed in the school gym on a rainy afternoon, in front of family, friends and a few dozen ex-teammates. Two more are expected to join prestigious academic institutions in early February, with quarterback Tobias Oliver committed to Georgia Tech and receiver Jaylan Sandifer appears headed to Yale.

There wasn’t the drama or suspense of some signing ceremonies, considering Daley committed to Vanderbilt in June. But it was still big.

“It is,” the versatile defensive back said. “I’ve been waiting for it. Starting a new beginning.”

Other schools may have been interested in Daley, but he never wavered.

“Once I said I was going to Vanderbilt, I had my mind set on going to Vanderbilt,” said Daley, who made the decision while at Vanderbilt camp. “I really remember seeing the sign that said, ‘SEC City.’ And the education.”

Daley joins a program that appears to be on the rise. The Commodores are 6-6 — the third straight year of improvement under head coach Derek Mason — and will play N.C. State in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 26. Vanderbilt wasn’t far from a quality record, losing by seven points to Florida, Kentucky and Auburn and by nine to Missorui.

The Commodores picked up wins at Georgia and over Mississippi and Tennessee.

If all goes according to plan, Daley — who had 142 tackles and 13 interceptions as a three-year starter for the Eagles — will see plenty of familiar faces next fall. Marquez Callaway (Warner Robins) is at Tennessee, and Jake Fromm (Houston County) is headed for Georgia. Houston County receiver Amari Colbert has committed to Western Kentucky (as has Mary Persons’ Caleb Etheridge, a former teammate of Hilltoppers offensive lineman Tyler Camp). Tattnall Square’s Jimmy Marshall has committed to Middle Tennessee.

All are on Vanderbilt’s schedule at this point. Daley will be in a crowded field of veterans in the secondary, with the Commodores listing one senior, four juniors, three sophomores and a freshman on the two-deep for the regular-season finale against Tennessee. Kinsler knows Daley will be ready.

“He knew that he was going to work and do what was necessary in the classroom and out on the field to give himself that opportunity,” Kinsler said. “When it started looking like it could be a reality, he just threw himself into his schoolwork and into his football.”