Incoming Notre Dame freshman wide receiver DaVaris Daniels was named the Male Athlete of the Year for his hometown Lake County by the Daily Herald of Suburban Chicago.
The Daily Herald’s write up on Daniels had a lot of interesting nuggets including some glowing remarks from both Daniels’ football and basketball coaches at Vernon Hills.
“DaVaris is a once-in-a-lifetime athlete to coach when you consider his abilities, work ethic and attitude,” Vernon Hills basketball coach Matt McCarty said. “His attitude has always been team first. Rarely do you see the complete package, but we have had it with DaVaris in both football and basketball.”
His football coaches talked a lot about a topic that is sure to grab Notre Dame fans’ attention – Daniels speed.
“There are a lot of great things about DaVaris, starting with the fact that he’s such a great kid,” Vernon Hills football coach Tony Monken said. “But the thing that probably sets him apart the most is that there are a lot of fast people. But there aren’t a lot of tall, fast people.
Many national pundits – I’m looking at you Kirk Herbsreit – have knocked Notre Dame’s team speed for years and in some instances they haven’t been too far off. Notre Dame has, for the most part, lacked team speed for a long time now. Incoming freshmen like Daniels, George Atkinson, his brother Josh Atkinson, and Matthias Farely along with class of 2012 commitments Tee Shepard and Ronald Darby, however, could very well change that lack of speed.
If you read through the entire Daily Herald write up, it’s easy to see why Daniels was included on Monday’s article about Notre Dame freshman who could make an immediate impact in 2011.
It is looking more and more like Notre Dame will have the services of Michael Floyd this season, but outside of Floyd, Notre Dame will be relying heavily on a group of largely unproven wide receivers.
TJ Jones showed some flashes of his potential last year but struggled with consistency and converted running back Theo Riddick looked primed for a big season before injuries derailed his 2010 campaign. And those are the two most proven receivers outside of Floyd for Notre Dame this fall. Senior John Goodman struggled catching the football throughout the ’10 season and while junior Robby Toma made some plays down the stretch, he is mainly only a weapon out of the slot. Senior Deion Walker has not made his presence felt in three seasons and faces a now or never fall camp this year.
Because of all of this uncertainty at the position, a young receiver like Daniels could step in and make an immediate impact similarly to what Duval Kamara did in 2007 and what did in 2008. The opportunity will certainly be there.
What might have been interesting about the Daily Herald’s article though is the mention of Daniels contemplating trying out for the Notre Dame basketball team. Early enrollee freshman Everett Golson has already said he’ll try out for the basketball team next year and that isn’t lost on Daniels – a prep basketball star as well. Daniels told the Daily Herald he is at least considering trying out for the team. Whether or not he mentioned that to Brian Kelly is another story.
What is clear is that Daniels is bringing some much needed size and speed to the Irish receiving corps. Notre Dame doesn’t have a receiver with his size and speed combo right now. Floyd is bigger than Daniels, but isn’t as fast. Jones and Riddick may be faster, but neither have Daniels size. The Lake County Male Athlete of the Year will report to Notre Dame next week with a golden opportunity. What he does with it we’ll soon find out.