After a remarkable sophomore season in 2012, Daniel Munyer was enjoying his time in the sun.
Following a solid, yet limited freshman campaign, Munyer’s stellar play as an interchangeable component of an injury riddled offensive line earned him honorable mention All-Pac-12 Conference honors from the league’s coaches last year.
His spring camp began with all the promise he had started to fulfill in the fall and then, in an instant, everything changed. Early in spring camp, he suffered a fractured fibula in a fumble recovery drill and was sidelined for the reminder of off-season workouts.
Although the physical development and maturation on the field heading into his junior season will now have to be condensed into one solid month, Munyer has never stopped working towards improving. The setback has given Munyer a chance to focus more on his development in other areas, which in the long run, may be just as important.
"The first month after the injury I really couldn’t do anything,’ said Munyer. "I was in a boot and I just spent a lot of time in the weight room. Then in the past 4-5 weeks or so I got the boot off and I’ve been working a lot on my footwork, my steps and learning the offense."
Some may question his ability to return to full strength in time for the start of the season but, Munyer himself is not among those naysayers.
"I still think I can make All-Pac-12 (this year)," said Munyer. "I’m always looking to improve and I don’t think this injury changes anything (for me)."
Unfortunately, this was not Munyer’s first setback in his career as a Buff. After redshirting in 2010, he started the 2011 season atop the depth chart at center. He played well for the first three games then suffered a severe ankle sprain, which sidelined him for four weeks. By the time he returned to lineup in late October, his replacement, Gus Handler, was firmly entrenched at the position and Munyer was relegated to spot duty for the remainder of the season.
Munyer started to break through in 2012. After beginning the season at right guard, he filled in admirably at center for an injured Handler on six different occasions throughout the year. Despite having to frequently adjust to the nuances of two very different positions, Munyer still graded out to over 83 percent for the year (over 80 percent in nine games), tied for the team lead in touchdown blocks with seven, and was not called for a single penalty all season. He played a team-high 785 snaps, not just on offense but overall.
"All of the accolades and praises I received last season were a great honor for me and I definitely felt like I deserved them but there is still (some things) I can need to get better at," said Munyer. "I think I need to get better in terms of communicating with everyone else on the line and just continue to keep learning my job. As long as I know what I’m doing that will make everyone’s job that much easier."
Making his return that much more challenging is the implementation of a fast-paced offense by the new coaching staff lead by head coach Mike MacIntyre. MacIntyre, who was hired in January, has brought with him the promise of fielding a unit whose speed will rival some of the more fast paced offenses in the country in 2013.
"Coming off an injury, it’s going to be hard to adapt," said Munyer "But if I think I’ll be able to figure it out. I just have to make sure I stay conditioned because I have to be able to run (quickly to the line of scrimmage between plays)."
A young offensive line grew up last season perhaps more than any other unit. A number of injuries forced young and inexperienced players into the lineup, who gained valuable experience in the process. With that kind of familiarity amongst the underclassmen, a new found level of stability amongst the upperclassmen, and the expected return of the versatile Munyer in August, a unit that may have once been considered a team weakness has slowly become one of its biggest strengths.