Coming into his freshman year, Danny Wolf fully expected to be playing safety for Hopkins football. After all, he had been playing the position since he was in third grade.
On the first day of practice, Wolf showed up in the wrong practice jersey color. White was for offense; black was for defense. It was a simple mistake, but he had to make do with the situation. He was going to give running back a try. What he didn’t realize was that he had started a new permanent position.
In an interview with The News-Letter, senior Wolf described how he handled the transition.
“It was kind of weird at first. There were certain fundamental things like pass protection that I was never taught,“ he said. “There’s also a psychological difference between offense and defense. There is more of a finesse game on the offense so just trying to incorporate the mentality I had on the defensive end with my newfound mentality on the offensive end.”
Last Friday, Wolf rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns in a 34–27 victory against Muhlenberg College, making it the seventh multi-touchdown game of his college career. The Hopkins football remains undefeated on the year.
The transition from safety to running back was not always easy for Wolf. He highlighted an October 2019 game against Gettysburg College that provided him with confidence in his new position. During the game, he rushed for 29 yards and scored a touchdown.
“It was the first time I got major minutes. It was a blowout game so the coaches put in all the backups,“ he said. “I played in three drives, and it was the first time I ever scored. So from that moment, I thought to myself ‘Ok, I can do this.’”
Wolf missed out on playing during his sophomore year because of COVID-19. However, Wolf credits the offseason to his growth and understanding of the playbook.
“In terms of knowing the schematics of the offense, I learned so much more,“ he said. “Since we had so much time, I learned so much about pass protection as well as where everything is developing on the field. It helped a ton.”
Wolf was immediately thrown into the fire during his junior season when he became the unquestioned starter after the other running backs graduated.
“I went from being this freshman who had one good game to being the oldest guy and leader of the group,” he said. “Those first couple of games were weird because there was a lot of pressure on me to perform, but by the time the playoffs rolled around I started to accept it and it made me better as a player.”
He attributes his success to his three running back coaches at Hopkins, Tommy McDonnell, Rusty Wright and S.J. Brown, and those on the offensive line.
Wolf described his epiphany on how to approach his games.
“This year I realized I should take the yards that are available on every play,“ he said. “Not every play has to be the biggest one. This mindset has helped me a ton and the coaches emphasized it to me last year and I’ve been able to apply it this year.”
In the past two weeks, Wolf has rushed for 293 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 12.7 yards per carry. He has also seen an increase in his carries per game, going from 16 to 10 and now to 23 over the last two weeks.
Last week’s win against Muhlenberg College meant a lot to Wolf after the team lost to them last season 21–6.
“Last year, they were the more physical team,“ he said. “We flipped the switch this time and were more physical, emphasizing running the ball more.”
According to Wolf, the Blue Jay’s early 6–0 lead over Muhlenberg College at this year’s game was not surprising.
“Always embracing the challenge is something we enjoy, and we’ll give them our best shot in return,“ he said.