In my own words: Daniyel Ngata
If there is one ASU incoming freshman that is thankful for the early December signing period, it is Daniyel Ngata. The running back was more than happy to wrap up a long recruiting process with his ultimate decision just coming days before he signed with the Sun Devils. Ngata shared with us his football background, his relationship with the ASU staff and his living up to the expectations now that he is already on campus as a spring enrollee.
“I know about football ever since I was a little kid, but I didn’t start playing football I think until fifth grade, my parents were just trying to protect me. So, I started a little late. When I started playing, I was scoring like 50 touchdowns almost every season (before high school). I felt really confident from day one that this something I want to pursue later on in high school and everything. I started out as a tight end, but when the coaches saw I was faster than the other kids they put me at running back. I also played some quarterback just because our other quarterback quit playing football. But I was running the ball all the time and felt very comfortable doing it.
“I played running back my freshman year. I could have played on varsity as a freshman but there is an age requirement, so I had to wait until I was 15 at the end of that season. I was a starter on varsity as a sophomore in my third game. I’ll be 17 when I get to ASU and I don’t turn 18 until June. It was a hard adjustment to make playing at the high school level but at the same time, it made me love the game even more. Coming from Nevada (after junior high) everybody in California was just a little bit bigger faster stronger and I didn’t score as much as I did.
“My brother (Joseph Ngata) got his college scholarship offer my freshman year, and at that time none of us in my family knew what was that about. We all got more into the process and that’s when I knew that I wanted to be a college football player. I knew I wanted that opportunity like my brother. My brother Joseph Ngata is a wide receiver for Clemson and I have another brother Ariel Ngata who’s a linebacker for Washington. It really helped me having two brothers that are really successful in football and that helped my development growing up, playing in the backyard and everything, and we also played with my cousin (ASU’s outgoing senior wide receiver) Brandon Aiyuk. It was awesome.
“The first ASU coach to talk to me was AP (ASU linebackers’ coach Antonio Pierce) during my sophomore year. I remember I was in the library and I get a message to call him right after I got offered by San Diego State. He offered me as an athlete, possibly on defense because I was then playing both sides of the ball at corner too. He said I’m the type of player that can do everything on the field. But that’s old talk because I haven’t played defense in a while.
“I’m close to (fellow ASU incoming freshmen) Elijah (Badger) and Omarr (Norman-Lott). Just like them I always liked Arizona State and always stayed in contact with them. AP always stayed in contact with me texting me. There was no way they were going to slip my mind.
“I was never going to attend college just because my brothers went there. I knew I had to make the right decision for me. Omarr who committed first was always on me to come with him to Arizona State. He would always call me and say: ‘we need you there…we can be great there.’ Elijah wasn’t pushing me that hard because he wasn’t (publicly) committed yet. But we would talk about it.
“Brandon (Aiyuk) wasn’t a huge influence in my decision, but he just showed me that if I had a good career at Arizona State I could get drafted. He told me that the coaches are on you at practice, but at the end of the day they want to see you do well and they are like father figures to you and take care of you. I like (running backs) coach Aguano because he talks to me about winning and being great. He talked about how he has been successful at Chandler High School over there so I trust him in coaching me to be successful and be the best I can be.
“When I talk to coach Edwards, we don’t talk a lot of football. We mostly talk about life. It was never about ‘who’s recruiting you? But more like ‘what do you like to do on the weekends?’ Just personal questions, trying to get to know. It was different than some coaches I talked to.
“Honestly, the day before signing day (December 18th) I decided to commit to ASU. Since I’m an early enrollee, I asked myself can I see myself at Arizona State? Can I see myself at Oklahoma State…will I be truly happy with that (school of choice)? At the end of the day, I knew I would be the happiest at Arizona State. It’s been a long recruiting process so when I told the (ASU) coaches about my decision there were really happy. It was a big relief to get it over with. I’m happy I didn’t have to wait until February (to sign).
“I haven’t talked to DeaMonte (Trayanum, the other running backs signed in ASU’s class) expect on a group chat we have. I know the competition will make us better and better, so I don’t care about the competition. Coach Aguano talked about me and DeaMonte different kind of styles running the ball. He (Trayanum) is the bigger back and I’m the shiftier back. Coach Aguano said that it was important to have two running backs like us and he expects both of us to do big things.
“It was important for me to graduate early and come to AZ to start the college process. I know it’s going to be a big adjustment to overcome all the new things. I know I can make a big impact coming in early and making a good first impression is everything to me. Every day I need to come 100 percent and that’s the biggest thing for me. Getting down the plays and executing them 100 percent is what is going to make me successful when I get there. There’s nothing more important than that. But I also know I have to stay in my books, because I have to be good in the classroom and successful off the field so I can be successful on the field. It’s not going to work for you and it would way too stressful if you’re not successful both on and off the field.
“It helps me that Elijah and Omar going to come later on in the summer. It will help me having them around and I will help them being early and tell them what to expect. I can give them the inside (information) on what they need to do. I really like how this Arizona State offense moves the ball and their system is similar to what I ran in high school. I feel that I’m kind of similar to (former ASU running back) Eno Benjamin and how he runs the ball and catches it too. So I feel I fit in very well in this offense. I know the new offensive coordinator Zak Hill from before, so I feel comfortable in his system because I know how successful he was at Boise State.”
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