For months it has been reported that both Keivarae Russell and Ishaq Williams were at least planning on returning to Notre Dame next season following their season long exile due to the academic investigation that took place over the summer, but the fate of Davaris Daniels was unclear. Until now. Daniels, considered to be Notre Dame’s top wide receiver coming into the season declared for the NFL Draft on Monday.
Unlike Russell and Williams, Daniels was never considered a lock to return to Notre Dame. In fact, it was unclear as to whether or not he would be accepted back to the University considering this was Daniels’ second academic issue. All of this makes Monday’s news all that surprising – especially when you look at the depth chart for next season at wide receiver.
Will Fuller established himself as the #1 wide receiver for the Irish in 2014 while Corey Robinson continued to develop as Notre Dame’s “big” wide receiver and CJ Prosise continued to flash the big play ability that has us thinking he is primed for a huge season in 2015. Add in Chris Brown who may not have emerged as we thought he would but did develop into a reliable target and some of the young talent at the position and there would have been a lot of competition for a guy who hasn’t played football in a year.
In short, Notre Dame is going to be just fine at the position even with Daniels not returning – especially with the crop of incoming freshmen of Jalen Guyton, CJ Sanders, MIle Boykin and potentially Equanimeous St. Brown if he signs with the Irish on Signing Day as many are currently predicting.
It’s unclear where Daniels projects in the draft. Some draftniks have him pegged as a potential mid-round pick, but after the long layoff it wouldn’t be surprising to see some teams be very cautious and waiting to see if he was available in the late round or as a rookie free agent. Given Daniels raw, physical tools though, he has a chance to catch on somewhere even if he has to ride out a season on the practice squad as he gets caught up with other rookies who spent last season playing live downs for their respective colleges.
Daniels will also have to answer questions about his off the field issues after missing the spring semester for academic issues and then missing the entire 2014 season for a different academic issue.
In today’s NFL though, academic issues might not be as much of a concern and all it takes is one team to see something in him during pre-draft workouts for him to secure his draft status. Being 6’2″ and 205 lbs with some downfield speed might not make that too difficult.
While Notre Dame will be fine at the position, today’s news certainly ends what turned out to be a disappointing collegiate career that looked to have so much promise. Back in the 2012 BCS Championship debacle, Daniels was one of the few players who looked like he belonged on the same field as Alabama that night. Daniels, however, was never able to turn in consistent periods of high level play like he displayed that night, however, and his career ended with many wondering what could have been.