District 2-4A co-Defensive MVP Robert McDaniel of Bastrop has verbally committed to play his college football at Jackson State University.

Bastrop High strong safety Robert McDaniel is going back home. McDaniel, who grew up 15 miles southwest of Jackson, has verbally committed to sign with Jackson State University on Wednesday morning.

McDaniel made his one season in Bastrop count as he was named the District 2-4A co-Defensive MVP along with Neville lineman Lakamion Franklin. He finished the season with six interceptions, including a pick-6 against West Ouachita with another called back vs. Brother Martin.

"Playing at Bastrop was a good experience," said McDaniel, who helped the Rams to a 9-3 record and a state quarterfinal appearance. "It was more competition. I was able to go up against some bigger, better players. At first, I didn't think I was going to be able to do it, but I won a starting spot."

Prior to moving to Bastrop, McDaniel earned All-District honors at Terry High, which competes in Class 6A (Mississippi's largest classification). McDaniel also nabbed six interceptions as a junior.

Despite growing up nearby, McDaniel only held a casual interest in JSU. His allegiance was to another group of Tigers.

"I watched Jackson State some, but I always thought of myself as playing for LSU," McDaniel said. "LSU has always been my favorite college team."

Jackson State, however, was keeping a close eye on McDaniel.

"Coach Hendrick saw me in the spring game at Terry my junior year," McDaniel said, referring to JSU head coach John Hendrick. "He said he knew I was a versatile player, and he was going to have to get me to Jackson State."

McDaniel also received offers from Southern Arkansas and Arkansas Monticello. But once he visited JSU, he knew where wanted to spend the next four years.

"Jackson State is close to where I grew up, and I already knew some of their players and coaches," said McDaniel, who first met JSU defensive line coach Dorsett Davis and offensive coordinator Ron Dickerson Jr. while residing in Terry. "Once they showed me around campus, I knew I had found my home. The atmosphere, the coaches and the football players are amazing."

McDaniel says his immediate goal is to step in and contribute as a true freshman.

"Coach said if I put in the work and do what I am supposed to do, I'll be starting as a freshman," McDaniel said. "I'm going to keep working hard and keep my grades up, so I'll be touching the field."

Jackson State was 5-5 last season, including a 4-3 mark in SWAC play. Hendrick, who guided the Tigers to a 2-1 record in three games as interim head coach, was hired as permanent head coach in late November.

McDaniel says he plans to major in criminal justice/forensics or business management.

SIGNINGS/BANQUET: Wednesday marks the first day of the late signing period.Bastrop will hold a mock signing ceremony Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Bastrop Municipal Center, preceding the 7 p.m. football banquet. Admission is $7.

Besides McDaniel, other Rams to give verbal commitments include wide receiver/defensive back Christian Smith (Prairie View A&M), quarterback Quaterious Hawkins (Jones County Junior College), wide receivers SirQuan Hawkins and Calvert Johnson (Snow College), and running back Kyrese Lawrence and defensive lineman Quandarious Rhodes (Arkansas Baptist College). The list is subject to change and/or expand.