Oct. 6, 2009
When Daniel Porter signed with Louisiana Tech out of Istrouma High School in February of 2006, he was just one of the more than 20 names on the Bulldogs signing day list.
Despite rushing for more than 2,000 yards and 34 touchdowns his senior year at Istrouma, Porter wasn't a four-star recruit. He wasn't the most highly-sought after signee that LA Tech landed. He wasn't considered to be the program's future star running back. Daniel Porter was simply another name.
In fact, LA Tech was the only Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) school that seriously recruited him as he chose the Bulldogs over Southern, Southeastern Louisiana and McNeese State.
Tech fans are glad he did.
"I really liked the people," Porter remembers about his recruiting visit. "Plus, it was away from home but not too far away. I wanted my family to be able to come watch me play."
And play he has. After seeing limited action as a freshman and sophomore, Porter exploded onto the scene in 2008 as he became the Bulldogs featured back despite sharing time with senior Patrick Jackson. He not only made the most of it, but he made a name for himself along the way.
Tech running backs coach Chino Fontenette said Porter's success comes through his work ethic in and out of season.
"Daniel has leadership qualities but he is more of a leader by example, by doing," said Fontenette. "He is not real vocal. His mission this past summer was to show the team through his work ethic what it takes to be successful on Saturdays. It takes hard work and training (during the offseason). He is successful because of how he practices day in and day out."
With only eight games remaining in his college career, Porter has already etched his name in the program record books.
Porter sits in eighth place in career rushing yards with 2,514, needing only 64 yards to pass Garlon Powell for seventh place. He needs to average just under 50.0 yards per game over the final eight to move into the top five all-time and still has an outside shot to become Tech's all-time leading rusher - he currently trails Jason Cooper by 828 yards.
"Last year's success surprised me a little," Porter said. "You never know what to expect heading into a season. You never know how the year will come out. I'm just thankful (for last year's success), and I'm trying to stay humble and feed off of it."
He also earned a reputation as a playmaker with some ESPN Play of the Day-type runs, including a memorable 23-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter of the Bulldogs 41-26 win over Southeastern Louisiana.
"Daniel has this incredible ability to make people miss and to break tackles," said Fontenette. "He is a tough running back; he's tough to bring down. He just has that ability to make people miss in the open field."
On the play which Tech fans still talk about, Porter was surrounded by what appeared to be the entire Southeastern Louisiana defense along the sideline before the blue #20 popped out of the pack, spun towards the middle of the field and outraced one last Lion defender to the end zone.
"It's just about making guys miss," Porter said. "On that play, they thought I was down. I made one move and there I went. It's about me not giving up on a play while everyone else did; they thought it was over. I knew it wasn't."
One week later, Porter played Houdini once again, making another spectacular run at Boise State moving the ball inside the Broncos five-yard line after making half a dozen blue jerseys miss. Although the play was negated due to a penalty, No. 20 had officially earned a reputation and the respect of his teammates.
"I've always had the ability (to keep my balance)," Porter said. "I don't let one guy bring me down. That's how I've always been coached my entire life. I just run with authority and keep my feet moving. Whatever happens, happens."
Porter was a staple in the Bulldogs march to the 2008 Independence Bowl title, registering five 100-plus yard rushing performances including a career-high 189 yard, two touchdown game in a 38-35 win over Fresno State on Nov. 1, 2008.
And despite all of the success, he didn't let it get to his head.
"I don't know if I've ever coached a better guy," Fontenette said. "He is humble; he is quiet. He is a focused individual who works hard every day to accomplish his goals."
The fourth of five children of Willie and Pearl Porter (Daniel has two sisters and two brothers), the self-proclaimed neat freak is looking for more of the same in 2009 both individually and team-wise.
And as his eyes are focused on the Warriors tonight, Tech fans can rest assured of one thing ... Porter's feet will keep moving forward.