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5 Things to Know About New Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Matt Daniels


EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings new special teams coordinator has NFL experience both as a player and as a coach.

Minnesota announced the addition of Special Teams Coordinator Matt Daniels Monday in its second wave of coaching hires.

The 32-year-old will serve under new Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell.

Daniels joined the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2012 and spent time with the Rams (2012-14), Jaguars (2014-15) and Chargers (2015), mostly on the teams' practice squads. He began his NFL coaching career in 2018 with the Rams.

Most recently, he worked as the Cowboys assistant special teams coach in 2020 and 2021.

Here are five things to know about the Minnesota's new special teams coordinator.

1. Just missed O'Connell in L.A.

O'Connell and Daniels did not overlap seasons with the Rams coaching staff, but it's likely the two are plenty familiar with one another.

Daniels served as the Rams assistant special teams coach in 2018 and 2019 before being hired by Dallas. O'Connell, meanwhile, worked in Washington from 2018-19 and in 2020 joined the Rams as offensive coordinator.

Both Daniels and O'Connell were hired to the Rams by Los Angeles Head Coach Sean McVay.

2. Success in Dallas

Under Daniels and Cowboys Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel, Dallas ranked No. 3 in the NFL in kickoff return average (26.1 yards) in 2020 and No. 5 (24.8) in 2021.

Daniels and Fassel oversaw kicker Greg Zuerlein, who made 82.9 percent of his field goal attempts in each of the past two seasons. Daniels teamed with Zuerlein, a 2012 sixth-round pick, in St. Louis and also coached him in Los Angeles from 2018-19.

3. Standout safety at Duke

Daniels played safety at Duke, where in 2009 as a sophomore he started all 12 games and finished third on the team with 83 tackles.

In 2010, he finished second on the team with 93 total tackles and additionally recorded 6.0 tackles for loss, seven passes broken up, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception.

Daniels was named a Second-Team All-American and finished with 126 tackles.

When Daniels graduated in 2012, he was Duke's all-time leader in multiple statistical categories, including tackles, forced fumbles and pass breakups.

4. Georgia native

Daniels grew up in Fayetteville, Georgia, and was a four-year-letterman at Fayette County High School.

Other notable alumni of Fayette County include Ravens cornerback Brandon Boykin and Detroit Tigers outfielder Niko Goodrum.

5. Multi-talented

Not only did Daniels excel in high school football, where he was named Fayette County's Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year as both a junior and senior, but he also garnered attention in track and field. He was a member of Fayette County High School's record-setting 4x100-meter relay team.

Daniels earned a 4.0 GPA and received the Watkins Award, an annual honor presented since 1992 to the top African-American male high school student-athlete in the country. He was selected from a group of five finalists that also included Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson, Brandon Moore, Kenneth Page and DeVier Posey.