Former rivals Daniels, Montgomery united in NFL careers

James Daniels and David Montgomery battled for the Cy-Hawk Trophy in college, but now they're hunting for the Lombardi Trophy for the same team in their professional careers.

Iowa+offensive+lineman+James+Daniels+runs+to+the+sidelines+in+Kinnick+Stadium+on+Saturday%2C+Nov.+14%2C+2015.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Golden+Gophers%2C+40-35+to+stay+perfect+on+the+season.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FRachael+Westergard%29
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Former rivals Daniels, Montgomery united in NFL careers

Iowa offensive lineman James Daniels runs to the sidelines in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Golden Gophers, 40-35 to stay perfect on the season. (The Daily Iowan/Rachael Westergard)

Iowa offensive lineman James Daniels runs to the sidelines in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Golden Gophers, 40-35 to stay perfect on the season. (The Daily Iowan/Rachael Westergard)

Iowa offensive lineman James Daniels runs to the sidelines in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Golden Gophers, 40-35 to stay perfect on the season. (The Daily Iowan/Rachael Westergard)

Iowa offensive lineman James Daniels runs to the sidelines in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Golden Gophers, 40-35 to stay perfect on the season. (The Daily Iowan/Rachael Westergard)

Robert Read, Sports Reporter

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James Daniels and David Montgomery are no strangers to sharing the gridiron. The last time the athletes suited up together, it was at Jack Trice Stadium in 2017 for the annual Iowa-Iowa State showdown. Montgomery was a Cyclone. Daniels suited up in the Black and Gold. Now, they both wear the burnt orange and navy blue of the Chicago Bears.

Daniels enters his second season with Bears, and Montgomery will join him in the locker room after being selected by the franchise in the third round of the NFL Draft.

Both likely have memories of their last encounter on that September 9 afternoon in Ames, although Montgomery may have some he would like to forget.

Montgomery and his Cyclone teammates led Iowa, 38-31, with under two minutes remaining. It seemed as though a long-awaited victory in the series was Iowa State’s for the taking. Then, Iowa’s Akrum Wadley took a Nate Stanley pass 46 yards to the end zone in a manner that resembled an experienced Madden player going against the computer on rookie difficulty.

The Hawkeyes made the extra point, and Iowa would win the game in overtime, 44-41.

Despite the loss, Montgomery proved to be dominant for Iowa State. He was the heart of the offensive attack, compiling 165 yards from scrimmage and breaking the plane of the end zone on a 7-yard touchdown run at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

RELATED: NFL Hawkeye James Daniels returns for graduation

The Iowa offense was a well-oiled machine against the Iowa State defense that day, with Daniels making his season début after missing the season-opener with an injury. The Iowa offense compiled 497 yards of total offense with the 6-4, 295-pound heavyweight at center.

Daniels declared for the NFL Draft after the conclusion of the 2017 season, and in his rookie campaign, the Warren, Ohio, native appeared in all 16 regular-season games for the Bears and started the final 10 at left guard.

The first season was a success for Daniels, who showed steady improvement throughout the year and was named to ESPN.com’s All-Rookie team after the season. The Bears won nine of the 10 games Daniels started, and they finished 12-4 to win the NFC North title and make a playoff appearance for the first time since the 2010 season.

The Bears come into the upcoming season with the high expectations that are paired with making the playoffs the year before. Montgomery is included in that despite not yet taking a snap as a professional.

Montgomery was the first draft pick for the Bears this past draft, because the team did not have a first- or second-round pick, and the reigning Big 12 Male Sportsperson of the Year is expected to see significant playing time this season.

With that playing time comes big shoes to fill.

The Bears traded running back Jordan Howard during the offseason after three seasons as the team’s leading rusher. In that span, Howard rushed for 3,370 yards and 24 touchdowns, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl after his rookie season.

Montgomery will now take the lead in the ground attack for the Chicago offense. Shielding him from the heart of opposing defenses will be Daniels, who is projected to move back to his college position and start at center for the Bears.

Much has changed since the two last shared the field. At the time, they were college players fighting each other for the Cy-Hawk Trophy, and now as professionals, they are united in the goal of bringing the Lombardi Trophy to the city of Chicago.

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