We are running out of days until the start of the season, and our countdown of the top 25 Notre Dame football players on the 2013 roster continues today with our 7th ranked player – junior wide receiver DaVaris Daniels.
DaVaris Daniels, son of former NFL defensive end Phillip Daniels, came to Notre Dame as a raw, but talented highly ranked recruit who excelled on the high school level by being taller and faster than anyone trying to cover him. Once he got to the collegiate level that was no longer the case and the Illinois native ended up “redshirting” as a freshman as he adjusted to college both on and off the field.
After a season of learning, Daniels became one of Everett Golson’s go-to wide receivers as a sophomore in 2012 hauling in 31 passes for 490 yards although he did not reach the endzone in his first year of being a primary weapon in the Irish offense.
Daniels’s shinning moment in 2012 came during one of the lowest points of an otherwise magical season for Notre Dame when he racked up a career high 115 yards in the BCS Championship debacle against Alabama. That performance, against a top notch defense, are a indication of Daniels’s skill and is a big reason why Notre Dame fans are excited about what the future holds for Daniels.
Why DaVaris Daniels could be ranked higher
Daniels is really just scratching the surface of his potential and still has a lot of room to grow and improve – how much he improves this year will determine just where he fits in among Notre Dame’s top players.
As a sophomore last year, Daniels established himself as a downfield threat and often was there as a safety value for Everett Golson with Golson throwing the ball up for grabs downfield. One area where Daniels was not a threat was in the red-zone. He didn’t score a single touchdown in 2012 but if he is able to improve in that area and replace Tyler Eifert as Notre Dame’s go-to weapon in the red-zone he could end up being even better than the 7th best player on the Notre Dame roster in 2013.
Daniels will also feel the heat from a talented group of underclassmen receivers that will force Daniels to be at the top of his game all season long – especially from freshman Corey Robinson who has been drawing rave reviews all summer. That increased competition is going to raise the level of play of the entire receiving corps for the Irish – including Daniels.
Why DaVaris Daniels could be ranked lower
One of the biggest factors that could hold Daniels back this year is Tommy Rees. Daniels is a big play, down the field the receiver, but Rees just doesn’t have the arm to fully take advantage of all that Daniels brings to the table.
Against BYU, the only game last year that Tommy Rees played in it’s entirety, Daniels did not record a single catch. The only other time Daniels did that healthy was against Michigan State. In the only other game that Rees saw considerable action, Michigan, Daniels had just 2 catches for 40 yards.
Daniels can still be a very effective receiver for Notre Dame with Rees at quarterback, but allo of his skills won’t be on full display this fall most likely.
What would a successful season in 2013 be for DaVaris Daniels?
With Golson at quarterback, a huge, break-out season would have been int he cards for Daniels as he became more and more comfortable in the offense last year. With Rees, Daniels can still improve on his 2012, numbers but will likely see his 15.8 yards per catch dip a bit as a junior this season.
If Daniels can improve his reception total to 45 and pick up around 600 yards his season would be a success if he also reaches the endzone at least 5 times. With Daniels size, he needs to be a weapon for Rees in the redzone as Notre Dame looks to replace the production of Tyler Eifert.
Daniels is certainly capable of bigger numbers and it wouldn’t surprise us in the least if Daniels easily eclipsed those numbers. With the Notre Dame passing game likely revolving around shorter passes and yards after the catch though, we most likely won’t see Daniels reach his full potential until 2014 when Everett Golson returns.
The rest of our countdown so far:
#8 – Chris Watt – OG
#9 – Sheldon Day – DL
#10 – George Atkinson – RB
#11 – Keivarae Russell – CB
#12 – Matthias Farley – S
#13 – Troy Niklas – TE
#14 – Tommy Rees – QB
#15 – Amir Carlisle – RB
#16 – Danny Spond – OLB
#17 – Dan Fox – ILB
#18 – Jarrett Grace – ILB
#19 – Greg Bryant – RB
#20 – Christian Lombard – RT
#21 – Elijah Shumate – S
#22 – Jaylon Smith – OLB
#23 – Ishaq Williams – OLB/DE
#24 – Max Redfield – S
#25 – CJ Prosise – WR