Nov. 29, 2001
By Scott Barbee
When Charles McDaniel was at the University of Virginia as a star linebacker, many people thought that he was destined for greatness in the National Football League, but McDaniel had other plans. He chose to pursue business instead of football and never looked back.
McDaniel??s life has been filled with choices, and he has always seemed to come out on top.
“I was very heavily recruited out of high school, and I really could have gone to any of the top schools coming out, but I had always been a Virginia fan,?? McDaniel says.
McDaniel went with his instincts and his heart, and the Fredericksburg, VA native passed on NCAA powerhouses and settled on the hometown Cavaliers. The move paid immediate dividends as McDaniel started at linebacker his freshman year, led the team in tackles (109).
The next few years only solidified McDaniel??s spot as one of the great linebackers in UVa history. He led the team in tackles again in 1983 (130) and 1984 (101). His career total of 432 takedowns is second only to Jamie Sharper on Virginia??s all-time list. McDaniel was named All-ACC honorable mention in 1983, first-team All-ACC and second-team All-American in 1984, and third-team All-American during his senior season in 1985. McDaniel also served as a captain during the 1985 season.
None of those individual accolades proved as memorable to McDaniel, however, as Virginia’s 1984 Peach Bowl victory over Purdue. That win was the first bowl appearance and first bowl victory in the history of the Cavalier football program.
??To be a part of that was really exciting, and being a Virginia native, gave me that much more pride,” he says.
Choosing not to enter the 1986 NFL draft after his senior season, McDaniel instead took his psychology degree with an economics minor and turned to the moving and storage industry, which became his focus.
Fifteen years later, he is now the proud owner of The Hilldrup Company, which is part of United Van Lines, one of the most successful moving and storage companies in the United States. The company covers area from Maryland all the way down to Florida and its clients include Marriott and First Union. McDaniel says that he has incorporated much of what he learned from playing football into his management style.
??I think back to different sayings that there are about four or five [former head coach] George [Welsh] used, that I just borrow and use with the 600 employees that I have now. They get tired of my ??Welshisms??,??McDaniel jokes,??but when it really comes down to it, I think athletics teaches a lot about winning and losing, dealing with adversity, and dealing with highs and lows, it has been the same thing in business.??
McDaniel has never forgotten about the football program or the University that taught him these lessons. In addition to playing football at Virginia, McDaniel was a member of the Kappa Alpha Order, something he says helped him balance his college experience.
??The University is a very special place, and it certainly gave more to me than I will ever be able to give back to it: the academic environment, the social environment, and the athletic environment.??
McDaniel has done more than his fare share of giving back to the University already through his support of VSAF and the football program.
??I’ve been very proud to be in VSAF and of what I have been able to give since I graduated,??he says.
McDaniel’s most noticeable contribution is the traveling truck for the Virginia football team. McDaniel noticed that successful programs like Wisconsin and Michigan had their own 18-wheelers to transport all the equipment for their football teams. As the owner of a trucking company, he thought that Virginia needed its own truck, too.
After originally meeting with Associate Director of Athletics for Football Administration Gerry Capone, and Coach George Welsh, and we just decided we wanted to do something.
??We got it painted up, and I think it looks pretty good. In the next year or so, we are going to donate a tractor and 53-foot trailer, and we??re going to run it all over the country to spread the good word about Virginia Football and Virginia athletics.??
McDaniel has found his way back to Fredericksburg to settle down, even though he claims that he ??is in Charlottesville more then I??m in Fredericksburg!?? He lives there with his wife, who graduated from the University a year after him, and his 11-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son.
The University is always in the back of his mind though.
??I always look back fondly at my four years at the University. When I see that diploma on the wall, I’m proud of that every single day. I couldn??t have asked for a better four years.??