Daniel Jeremiah's journey to one of the country's respected football personalities began decades ago as a small child in El Cajon.
On Tuesday, speaking for the first time after being announced as the new color analyst for the Chargers' radio broadcast, Jeremiah couldn't help but reflect on how his life has come full circle.
"I grew up driving in the car and listening to Chargers games," he said with palpable excitement. "That was me on any given Sunday afternoon, so to be part of this broadcast is pretty special. My parents were longtime season ticket holders. I remember going to a playoff game against Miami when I was a kid. I used to visit their training camp all the time growing up. I've been following the Chargers for a long time. It kind of goes full circle because I grew up in San Diego, I work in Los Angeles and I live in Riverside. I've followed this team forever."
Jeremiah will join play-by-play announcer Matt "Money" Smith and sideline reporter Shannon Farren for KFI AM-640's game broadcasts. He brings a unique perspective few other analysts can provide. After serving as a three-year starter at quarterback at Appalachian State, Jeremiah served as a scout for the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles before transitioning to broadcasting in 2012.
Since then, Jeremiah's established himself as one of the top pundits in the game. He serves a multitude of roles at NFL Network, a mainstay as a studio analyst for numerous programs including NFL GameDay Prime, NFL Total Access and Path to the Draft. He is also co-host of the Move the Sticks Podcast with Bucky Brooks.
Now, his new role with the Bolts provides an entirely different opportunity. The fact it's for his childhood team he believes is on the verge of breaking out makes it even sweeter.
"I couldn't be more excited," he said. "It's the perfect opportunity to be back in the stadium every week. This team and organization is really ready to take off. Look at the talent that they've assembled under Tom (Telesco). They have a championship-caliber quarterback, and you've got one of the most talented defenses in the league. That's a great place to start. They were so close to being a playoff team last year. I think they've definitely got a chance to be a serious contender in the AFC this year."
Jeremiah is regarded as one of the preeminent experts when it comes to the NFL Draft. After spending countless hours poring over each and every prospect selected in April, he's particularly looking forward to seeing the Bolts' class up close this season.
After all, he was a huge fan of their draft haul.
"I'm really excited, especially with Derwin because we said in the route to the draft multiple times that he was made to play with this team and this defense. I just didn't think there was any chance he would get to the Chargers! But sure enough, it happened, so I'm excited to see how he mixes in there. I expect him to be a big-time player right out the gate. You've got some other real talented athletes that you've added on the defensive side of the ball, especially Uchenna (Nwosu), Kyzir White; just explosive players. The best defenses in the NFL are usually the fastest defenses in the NFL, and the Chargers got faster."
There's also one player from last year's draft he's eager to see in 2018.
"I love Forrest Lamp so much," he said. "I saw him early in training camp last year, and was excited to see what he could do. Unfortunately, he had an injury. For me, selfishly, I'm excited to see him get in there and compete."
Jeremiah is clearly eager to get started in his new gig and bring his wealth of expertise into the Bolts' broadcast booth.
Still, he's keenly aware he has large shoes to fill, taking the place of Chargers legend Nick Hardwick. This offseason, the former center stepped away from the booth after three years to spend more time with his family.
"I have the utmost respect for Nick," Jeremiah was quick to point out. "I scouted him when he was in college, and I followed his career closely. He was wildly successful on the field and in the booth. He did a great job in the role and set a standard."
So, what can fans expect from their new color analyst?
"Everybody has their different style, and I'm going to learn and grow as I go," he said. "Matt's job is to tell us what happened, and it's my job to kind of talk about why. That's something that I'm going to try and do (multiple ways). If it's in terms of the strengths and weaknesses of the individual player (or) in terms of what's going on from the team's standpoint, it's my job to try and put that puzzle together of why it happened."
Nick Hardwick's decision to step away from the broadcast booth in order to spend more time with his family caught Matt "Money" Smith by surprise.
"I was shocked to hear that Nick wasn't coming back and assumed it was him not liking me!" joked Smith with a hearty laugh. "But really. I enjoyed doing the games with Nick and I'm certainly going to miss him. He's a great guy. So, when that kind of came down, I was A) surprised and B) curious as in what direction the team was going to go."
However, Smith firmly believes going with Jeremiah is a home run.
"It's got a real good chance of setting a trend because he comes from the scouting (realm)," he explained. "He has 10 plus years of scouting, and not only as an area scout, but as a national scout that knows every single player. He has to know every single player now in the league, and Daniel's one of those guys who has a steel trap for a memory. He understands and knows the tendencies on basically each guy on the field. There's probably just a handful of guys left in the league that he didn't scout before they got to the league. And he's a former quarterback (in college). So, he's someone that understands the most important position, how to organize an offense and how to read a defense."
Still, it's Jeremiah's uncanny ability to break down the game like no one else that Smith says is a gamechanger.
"I've been able see he and Baldy (Brian Baldinger) watching tape together. Just talk about two guys who really see the game from their own point of view, and can break down every single moving part in a moment. It's something to watch! I've been fortunate enough to be in a room with them while they're doing it. To see what they see as scouts, as people who have chewed up tape for decades and to see them go 'Look at that right there,' and point to a guy that you would've never thought to focus on, that has somehow popped out of the screen to him, that's something he'll be able to do in real time for Chargers fan. I think it will make for a very unique and exciting broadcast to listen to."
Smith and Jeremiah have worked extensively over the years at NFL Network, and their relationship extends beyond the workplace. Smith's presence is the cherry on top of what is clearly a dream job for Jeremiah.
"I just don't know who wouldn't want to work with one of their best friends and spend 20 weekends watching football together and talking about it?" Jeremiah said. "It's a dream scenario from that standpoint. Not only is he a great friend, he's a true professional and is great at what he does. I'm looking forward to being with him, and I'm looking forward to learning from him."
"It helps that we know each other," added Smith. "I know you've got to be on your toes around him because he has got one of the quickest wits you'll ever get around. I think it challenges you, I think some people get intimidated when they get on set with him because they don't want to be the (one) that's got it going over their head. One of the things with Daniel (is) he's not just there to do Xs and Os. He's a real entertainer. He's very clever. I think having known him as long as I have, knowing what his frame of reference tends to be, I ought to really be able to pick those up and also throw a couple his way. The two of us having covered the draft (together), there's so much downtime that you had to fill. There are things you can only get by reps. We've done quite a few of those together where we've got to fill and you get to know someone's personality, where they're going to go with things when you need to kind of create content, and we're really good at that."
The Chargers' 2018 training camp schedule is official, so mark your calendars to watch the Bolts prepare for the upcoming season! The team will hold 14 practices open to the public between July 28 and August 23. For more information, please visitwww.chargers.com/camp.