South Bend Saint Joseph's Daeh McCullough headlines area football signing day

Justin Frommer
South Bend Tribune
Saint Joseph's Daeh McCullough (1) during pregame of the South Bend Adams-South Bend Saint Joseph high school football game on Friday, September 09, 2022, at Father Bly Field in South Bend, Indiana.

It was never a plan for Dasan and Daeh McCullough to be college football teammates.

A month ago, the elder Dasan was on Indiana University's roster. Daeh, a four-star safety that just finished his high school career at South Bend Saint Joseph, was committed to Cincinnati.

But within minutes of each other during a meeting in the office of Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables, the brothers became future Sooners.

More:New city, new team, new position and new commitment: Why everything changed for SB Saint Joe's Daeh McCullough

"I said I was locked in and ready to join," Daeh McCullough said. "(Dasan) started getting hype. The coaches started getting hype, coming in and congratulating me. Five minutes later my brother said he was on board, too. Everybody just got more hype. It happened, just like that.

"Venables was pumped. He was jacked. He started jumping up and down."

Daeh McCullough, the 395th ranked player in the 2023 class per 247sports composite, officially signed with Oklahoma during Wednesday early signing day period, headlining the list of area football signees.

McCullough joined Saint Joe for his senior year after his dad, Deland, was hired as Notre Dame's running back coach this past offseason. He spent the previous three seasons at Bloomington South. Deland, a former NFL running back, spent one year as associate head coach at IU (2021) with previous RB coach stints with the Kansas City Chiefs, USC and the Hoosiers (2011-16).

Saint Joe finished this season 4-7, beating rival Mishawaka Marian in an overtime thriller and winning a sectional game. McCullough was named a Northern Indiana Conference East-West Division first-team defensive back.

"Making the transition to South Bend was fun," McCullough said. "Being on the team with guys I just met in the summer and playing a whole season together with a whole new coaching staff taught me about adversity and getting through hard times. I’m glad I went there."

Just weeks before Daeh planned to signed with the Cincinnati Bearcats, head coach Luke Fickell left for Wisconsin and McCullough decided to reopen his commitment.

"Signing day was really close and our head coach leaves and I only have a few weeks to form a relationship with a whole new coaching staff," Daeh explained. "That is a big risk to take right before signing."

At the time, Dasan was already in the transfer portal. Oklahoma became a candidate for the duo because there were already established relationships with some coaches on staff, like co-defensive coordinator Jay Valai, who coached with Deland McCullough with the Chiefs.

It made the decision to commit right there in Venables' office so easy.

"It was going to be a better decision for me," Daeh McCullough said. "These last few weeks have been exciting waiting to get pen to the paper. That's all I have been waiting to do:

Here are the South Bend area's other early signees:

Elkhart's Brayden Jellison to Illinois State

Brayden Jellison

At 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, Jellison was a force on the Elkhart offensive line, helping the Lions rush for over 1,500 yards as a team this season.

Jellison chose Illinois State over Indiana State.

"The coaching staff is great," Jellison said via phone call. "The facilities are nice. They have a nice university for schooling and it just felt like the right place to be."

Jimtown's Taysire Williams to Dartmouth

Adams' Phoenyx Clark (12) looks to throw as Jimtown's Taysire Williams defends during the Adams vs. Jimtown football game Friday, Oct. 7, 2022 at School Field in South Bend.

Williams played a major role in Jimtown winning the Northern Indiana Conference North-South Division this season. He was also named to the NIC North-South Division first team as a tight end.