2023 Athlete Michael Daugherty Seeing Major Growth in His Game, Talks Relationship With LSU Football

Glen West

Michael Daugherty has been following LSU and its long string of success in the secondary since the early days of Tyrann Mathieu wearing No. 14 as a freshman for the purple and gold. 

Everybody remembers Mathieu for the phenomenal season he had in No. 7, but Daugherty, being a student of the game, liked to watch his freshman season because it showed the raw talent of Mathieu's that helped him become the player he ultimately did.

"I like freshman year Honey Badger because he was raw and nobody really knew who he was, he was just a kid from New Orleans making plays," Daugherty said.

The 2023 athlete out of Loganville, Georgia turned in an impressive freshman season for Grayson High School as a role player. Now, he’s ready to take that next step in his career and have a breakout sophomore campaign after an offseason of hard work, establishing himself as one of the early risers in the class.

Daugherty says LSU, Auburn and Florida State are the teams he's communicated with most but has also recently spent time talking with Florida, Mississippi State, Oregon, USC and Arizona State. The recruitment process really exploded for the rising sophomore in mid May, when nine schools made him an offer in the span of four days.

One of those universities was LSU, a program that Daugherty always dreamed of receiving an offer from.

"I was already looking at LSU to begin with and I was just ecstatic because that was always a school I wanted to go to," Daugherty said. 

To this point, his only person of contact within the LSU program has been cornerbacks coach Corey Raymond, who Daugherty has reached out to multiple times since receiving the LSU offer back on May 18.

"Since I'm only a freshman heading into my sophomore year, he was heavy on maintaining a good relationship and that he'll be keeping a close eye on how I develop these next couple of years," Daugherty said. "You never really know how a program or a kid will look in three years so we're just making sure to start that relationship early."

Raymond and the LSU staff haven't given Daugherty a full report on what they like about his game because they want to see him develop more first. The Grayson product has been told many times by other coaches that his physicality is one trait of his that jumps out. 

To show that physical play style so early in his career is a powerful characteristic, particularly because of the type of talent he faces in 7-A football in Georgia. Grayson enters the 2020 season as the No. 9 team in the country according to MaxPreps Top-100 and will be looking for its first state title since 2016 once the 2020 season kicks off.

Outside of his physicality, the 6-foot-0, 175-pound defensive back calls himself "a student of the game," making sure to watch as much film as possible this offseason to continue to develop the mental side of football. Through his film study, Daugherty was able to learn about body position in zone and press coverage.

"It was something I needed to do so getting with my head coach, my defensive coordinator and looking at the playbook and understanding what I should be looking for in certain coverages and certain plays helps me become an even better player," Daugherty said. "Understanding how to put my body in the right spot and make the quarterback have to look off the receiver, helps my d-line get an extra couple of seconds to get after the quarterback."

After going back and looking at his film, Daugherty wanted to add some weight heading into his sophomore season. He's now up to 175 pounds and adding on 10-15 pounds over the quarantine will help him be more physical at the line of scrimmage and help his technique.

"I think with me being so young, my biggest concern was prematurely opening the gate, reacting too late to certain releases," Daugherty said. "I have to be more patient, especially because we're going to see a lot of fast kids this year so patience was something that I really wanted to work on this offseason."

Daugherty says he expects to play a little more of a safety role with Grayson this season and that he often found himself watching JaCoby Stevens and Kary Vincent because of their diverse styles.

"There's obviously differences in JaCoby's game and Kary's game because one is a real big safety and one's more of the nickel back," Daugherty said. "With Kary I noticed he's more quick with his hips and JaCoby is more aggressive on downhill runs but that's one thing I'd like to implement. If I can be more aggressive as a free safety, I can add another person in the box and make the quarterback and offensive coordinator have to open up the playbook."

With the Tigers just winning the national championship, the recruits are seeing a true force to be reckoned with as perennial contenders, including Daugherty. 

"My biggest takeaway from the LSU offer and the conversations with coach Raymond is that I need to continue to work," Daugherty said. "Because at the end of the day there's always someone trying to work harder than you. For a school like LSU that just won a national championship to take the time and look at a freshman's film is huge to me. It's definitely a school I'm going to look hard at especially because there will be some open positions by that time."