by Rusty Ellis
Cookeville senior Daniel Otero took the next step in his athletic and academic journey on Friday by signing his NLI to play football at the University of the Cumberlands after graduation.
Head coach Taylor Hennigan saw plenty of Otero’s contributions to the Cavaliers in his first season as the team’s head coach, citing Otero’s ability to play anywhere along the offensive line as one of his biggest strengths.
“He’s put the work in and done the things necessary to get an opportunity to play at the next level,” Hennigan said. “On the field, the versatility that he provided, he was able to play every position on the offensive line, which is not easy to do…he’s very underrated as far as speed and the way he’s able to move. Off the field the way he carries himself, never a bad day and there’s always a smile on his face, so I’m really proud of him.”
As far as fit goes, Hennigan believes Otero has a great shot to make an immediate impact at UC when he arrives.
“Just an opportunity to get away and experience a culture and an environment that is trying to simulate some of the big-time college football (programs),” Hennigan said. “The similarities and some of the things we do culture-wise will help him.”
As far as what he’ll miss about Otero, there are absolutely qualities of his game that Hennigan will have a hard time replacing. Hennigan is not just proud of the work he’s done on the field, but also his attitude off it as well.
“On the field, he’s a guy you can plug and play at so many different positions,” Hennigan said. “Off the field, he’s always fun to be around. He’s always happy and always has a smile on his face. He’s a guy that so many of our players enjoyed being around, and he was a positive influence on our team. That’s what I’ll miss the most.”