Aquinas senior makes an impact at Hawaii all-star football game
Aaron McDaniels is going to get his Hawaii Tiki Bowl jersey framed.
That's how memorable the Aquinas senior's trip to Honolulu, Hawaii was.
McDaniels was one of four players from New York and was recommended for the all-star football game by local coaches. He hopes his play at left tackle for Team Kekoa (Warrior) in the game will boost his college recruitment.
The lineman, a Rochester resident, has yet to make a college commitment. He's received interest from St. Francis, Valparaiso, Edinboro, Ithaca, Catholic, Alleghany, Lehigh and Stonehill.
"I played with really great players," McDaniels said. "It didn't end how we wanted it to, but it still was a great experience playing in Hawaii."
Hawaii Tiki Bowl
The final play of the Tiki Bowl is what McDaniels remembers most vividly.
Team Kekoa's three-star defensive lineman lined up at tight end and caught a leaping 25-yard touchdown reception.
"We blocked well for it knowing that this was our last hurrah of the game," McDaniels said.
The Tiki Bowl created three teams from the nearly 100 players selected. Teams were coached by college staffs and each squad played one half against another team.
McDaniels played left tackle, pancaking some of the nation's top defensive linemen, some of who were Power Five recruits. He also learned the complex college blocking schemes quickly.
"I was happy with myself about that," McDaniels said. "My main goal was to play well against top players across the country."
I had a great time and experience playing in the @HawaiiTikiBowl today! Hawaii was beautiful and I can’t wait to come back! @AQ_football #Mahalo pic.twitter.com/mYCm3RzHaL
— Aaron McDaniels (@AaronMcD79) December 21, 2022
At Aquinas, McDaniels moved up to varsity as a freshman during the Little Irish's run to the Section V championship game in 2019. He became a starter on the offensive line as a sophomore, helping Aquinas return to the final in 2021 and making the Class AA second team.
McDaniels carries a 91.5% overall GPA while taking AP and dual credit courses.
McDaniels' family of five took the trip to the Tiki Bowl Dec. 16-21.
His father Brendan, stepmother Jennifer, and sisters Mylana Wiese and Rowyn McDaniels joined Aaron in Honolulu for the holiday season.
Tiki Bowl organizers kept families busy with a luau, photos on the beach, exploring the aquarium, checking out Aloha Stadium and seeing volcanoes. With Aaron being a history buff, and Jennifer a military veteran, visiting Pearl Harbor was especially memorable.
The family also took time to watch the Buffalo Bills play the Miami Dolphins on Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time, which is a five-hour time difference.
"It was a great opportunity that we could bring our whole family," Brendan said.
Aaron plans to use his offseason to work with private coach Bruce Johnson on improving his skills and narrowing his college choices.
"Bruce has been an invaluable asset in improving (Aaron) as a player and in his college process," Brendan said.
This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Aquinas senior Aaron McDaniels plays in Hawaii Tiki Bowl football game