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Travis Daniels sets off-field standard for today’s athlete

Posted May 24, 2012

Daniels recently walked at LSU’s Spring Commencement and has founded two up-and-coming small businesses

The Maravich Assembly Center on the campus of Louisiana State University was filled with NFL star power last week for the school’s 2012 Spring Commencement.

Former LSU football stars Joseph Addai, Corey Webster and Brandon LaFell joined the family of Travis Daniels to watch the Kansas City Chiefs defensive back graduate with a degree in general studies, including minors in sociology, sports studies and history.

“The LSU family is very close-knit,” Daniels said. “One thing I liked about going to school there is that even though everybody is busy in their own lives and doing their own things, whenever any guy has something going on we do our best to support it.

“Joe and Corey were actually two of the guys pushing me to go back and get my degree every offseason when we’d workout together.”

Daniels now finds himself passing the same advice to his currents teammates, including former LSU All-American Glenn Dorsey, after working with Chiefs Director of Player Development Katie Douglass in completing his degree.

The road to gaining a diploma was far from a one-step process for Daniels, whose beginning his eighth NFL season in 2012.

When Daniels exited LSU in 2005 as a fourth-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins, he left just 15 credits on the table prior to graduation. But by the time he made an effort to return to school, those 15 credits more than doubled because of catalog changes over a four-year period.

“I knew I wanted to go back, but I got caught up with wanting to travel some and do some things in the offseason that I had never been able to do,” Daniels remembered. “Those catalog changes really set me back and I went back-and-forth with university administrators for about a year to try and graduate under the same catalog that I started on.”

Nothing would come of those discussions and LSU ruled Daniels had to take classes under new catalog rules in order to graduate.

Daniels’ course load saw a significant increase, but he decided to move forward anyway.

“Where I come from in Hollywood, Florida is a drug-stricken area,” Daniels explained. “We don’t really have many role models doing positive things in comparison to people following around the guys that are doing the wrong things.

“I made it from Hollywood to become a college football player, won a national championship and made it to the NFL. People back home see that, but then I wanted to give them one more thing to think about. I wanted them to see my commitment to going back and getting my college degree.”

Daniels began taking online courses a few years ago, knocking out one class at a time as he worked toward his diploma. However, some of the courses required on-campus commitments, so Daniels used last year’s NFL Lockout to his advantage and finished the bulk of his remaining credits in Baton Rouge.

He earned his degree at the end of LSU’s summer semester, but wasn’t able to participate in commencement until last weekend because the lockout had lifted and the 2011 NFL season was set to begin.

Walking at graduation was important to Daniels, so he waited until LSU’s spring commencement on May 18th.

“For my family, it was very important for me to obtain my college degree,” Daniels said. “I’m the first one in my family to actually graduate from college and I just want to be able to set a great example for my family, for my younger cousins and for the people in my community.

“I just felt like all of the things I have accomplished to this point, for me to not have a college diploma just didn’t fit right in my mind.”

Daniels isn’t alone in that feeling.

The Chiefs have had more players return to the classroom than any other NFL team over the past two years. Donald Washington graduated from Ohio State last year while Terrance Copper, Dexter McCluster and Kendrick Lewis are all nearing degree completion.

Kansas City is also establishing best practices when it comes to career-transition, helping many players secure internships and gain admittance into post-graduate programs. Rookie Gabe Miller recently completed an internship with Kansas City-based Turner Construction while on injured reserve.

A wide range of players are taking advantage of Douglass’ assistance, including former players that began coursework while members of the Chiefs.

Chris Chambers, who was last with the team in 2010, is still in contact with the Chiefs as he works toward his degree at Wisconsin and former offensive tackle Ryan O’Callaghan is still in touch with the team as he nears degree completion.

Now that he has earned his degree, Daniels plans to continue his education by applying for workshops hosted by the Harvard Business School. Daniels has entrepreneurial instincts and recently opened two successful small businesses.

“If I’m able to attend the Harvard Business Management and Entrepreneurial program it would be great because I will be able to learn a lot more about the intricacies of business practices than I already know,” Daniels said. “I’ve pretty much been my own accountant when it comes to our business costs, the building lease, negotiations and all those type of things.”

Daniels co-founded Kutz Remix last summer with his brother. It’s a unique barber shop concept located in Suwanee, Georgia, not far from the Atlanta Falcons practice facility.

Kutz Remix was recently profiled by CNN.com and will celebrate its one-year anniversary on June 30th. The business is also set to be featured in the June issue of Men’s Health Magazine, ranking Kutz Remix as one of America’s top barber shops.

“The next thing to come after the barber shop is to have a beauty salon and spa, plus a Kutz Remix barber school,” Daniels said of his barber shop concept. “So there are a lot of different areas in the industry that I want to take full advantage of.”

Daniels has also founded his own marketing and event planning company, TDM Marketing, and recently threw a successful product launch for a Miami jewelry story.

“The owner was releasing a new watch that he designed himself and our company put on the entire event for him from food and drinks to black carpet entry,” Daniels explained. “It turned out to be a great event with a lot of the guys from the team coming down to support it.”

Dwayne Bowe, Kendrick Lewis and Brandon Flowers all attended the event, as well as Mike Wallace of the Steelers and BenJarvis Green-Ellis of the Bengals. Daniels was also able to book DJ Irie, the official DJ of the Miami Heat.

“I have a lot of things going on, but at the end of the day football is number one,” Daniels said. “I’ve got a good group of people running things behind the scenes so I don’t have to constantly check up and make sure everything is going the right way. We have a good thing going on right now.”

It’s a good thing Daniels hopes will continue to grow thanks to a college degree and post-graduate education.

Daniels’ off-field success also represents the type of accomplishments that will catch that attention of current NFL players, reinforcing the importance of earning a college degree both inside the locker room and back home in Hollywood, Florida.

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