Standing 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing in a 190 pounds, Davaris Daniels has the prototypical build for a wide receiver in a Brian Kelly offense. As the junior enters his third season at Notre Dame, however, the son of former NFL star Philip Daniels is still looking for his first career touchdown.
If Daniels continues to improve at the rate we saw from him as the 2012 season wore on, that first career touchdown shouldn’t take too long to record this fall. The second, third, fourth, and fifth might not be too fard behind either as steps into the role of Notre Dame’s #1 wide receiver.
Consistency will be key for Davaris Daniels in 2013
After standing on the sidelines for his entire freshman season, Daniels earned a starting position for Notre Dame last summer beating out 5th year senior John Goodman for the opportunity to start opposite TJ Jones in the Irish offense.
Daniels’ collegiate debut was not too noteworthy. He hauled in just two passes for 49 yards, but he followed that up with a four catch, 70 yard performance against Purdue a week later in the Notre Dame home opener. Unfortunately he failed to catch a single pass the following week when the Irish traveled to East Lansing.
Consistency. It was not a strong suit of Daniels game in 2012. Daniels had six games in which he recoreded two or fewer catches including two games where he didn’t catch a single pass – the Purdue game and then again a few weeks later against BYU.
Daniels regular season was then cut short by a broken collarbone injury suffered in the 10th game of the season against Boston College. The injury cost Daniels the final two regular season games of the season. At that point, Daniels had caught just 25 passes for 375 yards.
Davaris Daniels was one of a few bright spots vs. Alabama
The broken collarbone against Boston College kept Daniels sidelined for both the Wake Forest and USC games, but he was able to recover in time to play in the BCS National Championship and despite the time off, Daniels was one of the few bright spots for the Notre Dame offense that fateful Monday night in January.
Against one of the best, if not the best, defense in the country, Daniels caught six passes for a career high 115 yards – the first 100+ yard performance of his career. Daniels led all Irish receivers in yards against the Tide – TJ Jones hauled in more passes (7) but only picked up 90 yards on his grabs. Of his 115 yards, 77 came in the first three quarters as well so his performance was not just the result of wracking up yards against a prevent defense either.
If you watched any of the practice video during spring practice, it was pretty clear that Daniels used that performance as a spring board heading into this year. Watch any video and you saw a more confident, more fluid receiver in and out of his cuts. Things started to click for Daniels and his level of comfort in the offense started to become clear.
Can Daniels follow the career progression of Mardy Gilyard?
As Daniels enters his junior year, expectations are sky high for the immensely talented receiver who has maybe taken a bit longer to truly breakout than many thought he would. A quick look at his numbers though and his first season as a starting receiver are not too far off from another wide receiver Brian Kelly recently coached – Mardy Gilyard.
|Year 1 to Year 2 Improvement|
While at the University of Cincinnati, Kelly converted Gilyard from defensive back to wide receiver upon being hired by Cincinnati. Like Daniels, Gilyard sat out his first season under Kelly although Gilyard did so as an academic causality after seeing some playing time on special teams as a true frosh. In 2007, Gilyard saw his first action as a wide receiver and posted 36 catches for 536 yards and three touchdowns.
Solid numbers. Slightly better than Daniels line of 31 catches, 490 yards, and 0 TDs; but also hardly eye popping.
In year two as a wide receiver, Gilyard exploded with 81 catches for 1,276 yards, and 11 touchdowns. In year three, 87 catches for 1,191 yards, and another 11 touchdowns.
Gilyard is a different type of receiver than Daniels. He is a bit smaller and a bit faster, but like Daniels he was raw as a receiver when Kelly got his hands on him. In Giulyard’s case he played defense for a season. In Daniels’ case, he came from an offense that didn’t throw the ball much in high school where he could just use his size advantage to make plays.
With a full year under his belt as a starting wide receiver, the door is wide open for Davaris Daniels to step up and be the big target that Tommy Rees will desperately need this year. Rees has leaned on tight end Tyler Eifert heavily throughout his career, but when Rees had Michael Floyd in 2011 he went to him often. FLoyd had 10+ catches in four contests in 2011 and hauled in 9 touchdowns – all but one of which was thrown by Rees.
TJ Jones might have more highlight reel plays because of his ability to make plays in the open field, but when all is said and done in 2013, Davaris Daniels will be the Notre Dame receiver to catch the most passes and will no longer be a stranger to the endzone.
Previous Posts in this Seriees
3. Ready for Prime Time ’13 – Bennett Jackson – Monday, June 24
4. Ready for Prime Time ’13 – TJ Jones – Thursday, June 20
5. Ready for Prime Time ’13 – Amir Carlisle – Wednesday, June 18
6. Ready for Prime Time ’13 – Keivarae Russell - Monday, June 16