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The future is now for Davaris Daniels

Mar 22, 2012, 4:49 PM EDT

Davaris Daniels

Michael Floyd is gone. After four record breaking seasons, the only No. 3 walking through the doors for the Irish is on the back of Amir Carlisle, who isn’t walking, but hobbling through on crutches, courtesy of a broken ankle that’ll rob the Irish’s newest offensive asset of a spring acclimation period.

While the Irish will be hard pressed to ever replace the school’s all-time leading receiver, it didn’t take long for head coach Brian Kelly to put rising sophomore Davaris Daniels on notice that he’ll be given the first shot at filling the very large hole Floyd left behind.

Even before having the thousand watt megaphone the Notre Dame media provides, Kelly often took to public proclamations to motivate his players. In his first comments of the spring, he started that process by making it known that Daniels, who sat out last season while learning the ropes, has all the physical ability needed to star in this offense.

“He probably tested out at tops in the skill position, ahead of guys like Cierre Wood, ahead of guys like Theo Riddick,” Kelly said of Daniels. “His numbers are off the charts in terms of vertical jump. He tested comparable to a number of the wide receivers at the NFL combine. He’s got great numbers.”

While Notre Dame didn’t release the results of their unofficial combine, a quick look at the NFL combine results let you know that if Daniels checks out with some of the better jumpers in the draft, he can certainly leap. (Though I think we already knew this.) While we caught a brief glimpse of Daniels running his 40 during the offseason workout video, we can only assume from Kelly’s comments that it was also comparable with the guys running in Indianapolis, which means it was in the 4.4 to 4.5 range. Whatever the exact number is, that’s a welcome change to an offense that couldn’t attack vertically with its personnel, even with Floyd in the lineup.

Of course, true to Kelly’s nature, he also made it abundantly clear that while Daniels has the skillset necessary to succeed, he’s yet to do it.

“Those are numbers. He hasn’t done anything yet,” Kelly said. “He hasn’t caught a pass in a game, hasn’t caught a touchdown pass. So we know he’s got the physical ability, now we’ve got to be able to see that translate, and it’s time for him to do it. We were able to move him slowly last year, it’s time for him to go, and this spring will be that opportunity, and we all feel very confident in his ability to come in and impact our offense.”

For his part, Daniels impressed Kelly in his first day on offense, running with the second unit behind fifth-year senior John Goodman and junior TJ Jones, showing off the sheer ability Kelly knows exists. In the various videos available around the net, it isn’t hard to see a confident kid with explosive athletic ability, even if it is in shorts and without pads.

Still, Daniels’ development will be one of the key stories of the spring. Rumors coming out of offseason workouts have the Irish thinking they’ve found offensive weapons in Troy Niklas and Amir Carlisle, two guys that can transform an offense quickly, especially when paired with All-American Tyler Eifert. Putting Theo Riddick with Cierre Wood should stabilize the running back depth chart, and allow Chuck Martin find something for George Atkinson and his sprinter speed to do.

Obviously, the Irish offense will go nowhere without a capable quarterback, but even that position should be buoyed by an attack that’ll likely look much different than the one we last saw floundering in Orlando. With Goodman and Jones yet to show they’ve got the chops to be an effective outside wide receiver, it’ll be up to Daniels to seize a job that’s there for the taking.

He certainly knows his head coach is watching.

  1. bernhtp - Mar 22, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    As I told Dick previously, who dis’ed our receiving corps, watch out for the killer D’s – Davaris, Daniel Smith, and Davonte – to make an impact this year.

    • nudeman - Mar 22, 2012 at 6:57 PM

      Man, I hope you’re right. If I recall their longest pass play last year was something like 45 yards and Martin definitely wants a more vertical offense. I don’t know if you can get that just from quick slot guys like Neal and whoever else.

      Someone has got to step up. Despite the glowing reports about Daniels’ conditioning I was concerned about Prister and Sampson’s observation that he looks so slight of build.

      • cameronemclaughlin - Mar 23, 2012 at 10:38 AM

        The guy is as big or bigger than several elite NFL receivers. If he has the ability, his size isn’t prohibitive.

      • nudeman - Mar 23, 2012 at 1:20 PM

        We’re not talking height. We (or Prister and Sampson) were talking about slight of build. Thin.

    • islandsdomer - Mar 23, 2012 at 6:45 AM

      I sure hope Gunner is the guy throwing to him this season.

  2. dickasman - Mar 22, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    Les go dawg!!!!!!

  3. herringbonesports - Mar 22, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    It would seem the storylines we’re looking at:

    1. Biggest: QB
    2. Most intriguing: RB/Slot WR shift
    3. Most unknown: Outside WRs
    4. Scariest to explore: CBs
    5. Underreported: RG/RT

    Honorable mention: “Overreported”: Attempts by everyone and their brother’s uncle to prove they know the difference between the “Cat” & “Dog” and who they think should start based off their personal criteria.

    • nudeman - Mar 22, 2012 at 6:52 PM

      Glad you mentioned “cat” and “dog”. I’ve read those terms in nearly every discussion about the D and have no idea what they mean.
      Can I assume one is strong side and the other weak?

      Can someone explain?

      • dmac4real - Mar 22, 2012 at 6:59 PM

        As the Dog position you DROP into coverage. At the cat its basically all rush i beleive. Flemming was at CAT, thus he did not do much coverage. Shembo was at DOG and thus struggled in coverage.

      • akirish - Mar 22, 2012 at 7:20 PM

        Yes, Nudie, as I understand the terms, one is strong and one is weak side. On the strong side the “Cat” has less coverage responsibility and rushes the passer more often. On the weak side the drop is the main player who had to hold the edge or “contain”, and also drop into coverage when necessary. I think all g with the physical skills needed to cover someone smaller and quicker and faster, it’s the very decision on when to maintain the edge vs. drop off that most confuses young players.

        I’m not a coach, at any level, and the explanation is probably elementary, but that is how I understand it.

  4. jimbasil - Mar 22, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    Two words: Offensive Line!

    Give the QB some time to get good reads and the WR’s corp will look good and do good things.

    Just sayin’

  5. akirish - Mar 22, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    I imagine many of the fans on this blog caught the live chat w/ Eric Hanson today, or at least the transcript. If not, he was pretty clear he sees T.J. Jones and Toma as #1′s, with Goodman over Daniels and everyone else at the other wide spot. I am very careful what I say about college athletes and I even brought down the wrath of Nudie (who I actually agree with most of the time) defending one, but I hope Hanson’s opinion is just that. Goodman has shown Dependability and is probably a great teammate, but in countless opportunities to make a play (more than most players on the team), he has not taken advantage. Even at the end of the bowl game against the Seminoles, he alligator-armed what appeared to be a difficult but makeable catch in the end zone when MMF was out. It is time to give some of the young talent recruited a chance to shine in game situations. Anyone who has played sports knows there are people who absolutely crush in practice and underperform in games. I really want to see other receivers get the opportunity to make plays when it counts. Daniels sounds great, now let’s see it on Saturday!

    I for one feel like the lack of a sure #1 superstar will allow a number of players to step up and play a major role. Combine that with a mobile QB who operates the system and takes what the defense gives him rather than looking always to the safety valve, and we have the potential for a more explosive, unpredictable offense.

  6. Keith Arnold - Mar 22, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    Here’s the easy way to remember Cat and Dog linebackers.

    Cat is on the short side of the field — the boundary side.
    Dog is on the wide side of the field — the “field” side.

    Explains why Field/Dog needs to play better in space, and why the Cat/Boundary is more of an upfield/shortside player.

    Make sense?

  7. degosavage23 - Mar 22, 2012 at 10:09 PM

    I have absolutely no faith in John Goodman. I have yet to see him do anything significant in all the time he’s been at ND. I would’ve loved to see him live up to the hype, but I just don’t see it happening. He just hasn’t been a weapon of any kind, WR or PR. I still to this day have never understood why he ever returned punts when there were far more dynamic players who could’ve filled the role much better than he did.

    • bernhtp - Mar 23, 2012 at 6:32 PM

      I am really rooting for this kid and expecting him to step it up. While he won’t break any of Floyd’s records, he has the athletic ability to contribute significantly. Good interview here: http://www.und.com/allaccess/?media=312213

  8. declan2010 - Mar 23, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    It is an interesting note about the lack of a vertical game, but Daniels runs in the 4.4-4.5 range. I believe Floyd ran a 4.42 at the combine which put his speed into the top tier. He probably did not face a CB all year as fast as him and blew by several (this includes FSU, USC, Michigan, Stanford) Riddick and Wood (Neal?) both also run in that same range, so this excuse of not having speed at ND skills positions can no longer be part of the conversation.

    The better explanation for the lack of vertical game can most likely be tracked back to the lack of arm strength or accuracy of Tommy Turnover past 25 yards (makes the Crist demotion even more puzzling) more than the speed of receivers. For example, Tate also ran a 4.42 but had a QB/coach/system not afraid to let him go get the ball, which yielded some big plays.

    The ever play TE size mismatch is something that NE showed the football world last year, I am glad Kelly was watching. Stanford had the 6′ 8″ guy that killed ND with his size advantage. Eifert looks more like a 6′ 5″ range, so having Niklas size out there is an automatic mis match (if he can catch).

    • nudeman - Mar 23, 2012 at 1:26 PM

      You can’t compare Floyd and Daniels in size. Floyd was about 230. Daniels is under 200. I know that wasn’t your whole point, most of which I agree with. It is not clear that Daniels has the strength to wrestle a ball away from a CB like Floyd did. There seems to be little question about his overall athletic skills though. And as far as strength goes, he’s still a frosh.

      I am also convinced that the angst over Dayne’s benching will never subside. No one was more vocal about that than me. In part because I had such high hopes for Dayne (I still think he can play at a high level) and lack of faith in TR.

    • bernhtp - Mar 23, 2012 at 2:15 PM

      While Davaris and MMF have similar height, speed and jumping ability, they are not comparable in terms of strength. Floyd physically abused corners. I still remember the ostensibly-elite corner from Michigan State that was totally beat up by Michael off the line, on down field blocking, breaking tackles and wrestling down balls. The poor guy still probably has nightmares about the experience. While more time with Longo will help Davaris, I doubt he’ll get to MMF’s level in this area.

      I think Eifert is a good 6’6″. He’s now taller than his dad who stands eye to eye with my 6’6″ son. While not supremely strong (yet), he has very good speed, great hands and is extremely wiggly, which allow him to adjust his position in all kinds of ways to make a play.

    • txirish2 - Mar 24, 2012 at 9:28 AM

      Does the fact that Tommy had trouble throwing the long ball really make Crist’s benching “even more puzzling?” I don’t think so. We know why Crist got benched, and it wasn’t because Tommy could throw a better deep pass than him.

      Rather than make it more puzzling, if anything, it enlightens as to why Crist was benched, since it eliminates one possible reason.

  9. nudeman - Mar 23, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    Keith
    One of your posters on another thread said Tee is going to Houston.
    I haven’t been able to find anything on that, but of course no one would be shocked.

    Is that true?

  10. ccad05 - Mar 23, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    Screw tee shepherd. Who cares where he goes? All about the money

    • bernhtp - Mar 23, 2012 at 4:15 PM

      I don’t know why this has anything to do with Money. I think Tee wanted to be successful at Notre Dame but didn’t put in the effort (or didn’t know how). Houston may not be a bad place for him. I wish him well.

  11. ccad05 - Mar 23, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    Tee and his cousin both proved they don’t wanna put in the effort and you dont just switch from ND to big bad Houston of all places without a bit of a greased up palm. People need to stop holding out hope they come back because they aren’t. Theyre lazy. They dont want to put in the effort in the classroom.They took the cash that houston offered. Screw em. They’re the enemy now.

    • nudeman - Mar 23, 2012 at 9:06 PM

      Agree 100%
      Everyone wants to be careful about what they say, and I suppose that’s OK.
      It’s a shame because the kids themselves are being hijacked by handlers and parents who just don’t get it

      I maintain Tee will never play major college football
      Deontay might never catch a pass at Houston
      Terrible work ethic and immature by all accounts

      Sorry. Truth.
      Give me a thumbs down

      • txirish2 - Mar 24, 2012 at 9:33 AM

        I understand your frustration, but the problem is that there’s been no evidence of “greased palms” or kids being “hijacked by handlers.” We’re all Notre Dame fans here, but it just comes off as poor sportsmanship when you attack someone’s character based on conjecture.

      • nudeman2point0 - Mar 24, 2012 at 9:53 AM

        txirish

        I agree. No evidence of it.
        I’d say that it’s more likely than not that no money changes hands in Houston for Tee (if he goes there) or Greenberry, In fact it might be totally on the up and up, not counting babes, maybe a free car to drive around in, couple tattoos, etc.

        Seriously though, I think the real reason for Houston is the lack of academic rigor.

  12. ccad05 - Mar 24, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    I love how everyone is on their moral high horse and trying to be all politically correct so as not to offend anyone. I guarantee most of you people had the same first thought when news of the defections broke……that being money. Keep in mind that just because there’s no so called “evidence” doesn’t mean a transaction hasn’t taken place. They took the money and ran and showed their true colors. If they don’t want to be here in South Bend then we don’t want them here. GO IRISH!!! Ps…….BK I like that you tried to get top talent at receiver but you have a lot on squad already. They’re going to explode this year.Daniel Smith is gonna to break out.

    • bernhtp - Mar 24, 2012 at 3:44 PM

      So what money did they take? You seem to be the one on the moral high horse here.

    • nudeman2point0 - Mar 24, 2012 at 6:22 PM

      ccad

      Like you I have a disdain for the moral high horse.

      But as opposed to cold hard cash on this one, I say it’s more about an easy (or non existent) academic program that will allow them to hang with their boys, major in Gym, engage in 420 occasionally, perhaps get a free rental car, and overall just have a nice easy life and play a little ball on Saturdays.

      Having said that a payoff wouldn’t exactly stun me.

  13. ccad05 - Mar 24, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    No moral high horse here unlike yourself. Sorry but being pc and being afraid offend people such as yourself is the problem now a days. I bet you voted for Obama. Bet you vote for him again too. You know gd well “they took he money” was the dirt bought in ur head when the boys left.

    • nudeman2point0 - Mar 24, 2012 at 6:24 PM

      Not sure of you’re new here, but keep politics and religion out of your posts.
      Thanks.

      • irishbornraised - Mar 24, 2012 at 7:33 PM

        he was just trying to say that political correctness has gotten out of control, and there was not better example of it than the one he used

  14. ccad05 - Mar 24, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    *first thought………autospell. Hate it

  15. fnc111 - Mar 24, 2012 at 11:22 PM

    Only naive people think there is no exchange of money for talent. These 2 kids will regret their decision 10 years down the road. I was banned on the rivals board for telling everyone there that the Fresno duo would not be going to ND. I started saying it 11 months ago. I never got any apology for the trashing I got from other posters. BK has to identify real RKG talent. These two were not ND guys.

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