Feb 27, 2014, 3:24 PM EDT
With Brian Kelly set to kickoff spring football tomorrow, one of his key players not taking part in practice opened up about life away from Notre Dame.
DaVaris Daniels, the Irish’s leading returning receiver, is away from school after failing to achieve a 2.0 grade-point-average during the fall semester. He spoke with CBS Sports’ Jeremy Fowler about how he got to where he is and how he plans to return to Notre Dame.
Daniels was candid in the interview, discussing what put him into academic peril, what he’s doing in Chicago, and the work he’s putting in to bring him back better than ever.
The entire piece is worth a read, but here are some interesting nuggets:
- Daniels’ production dropped off because of injuries. Fowler reports that Daniels was battling plantar fasciitis, turf toe and a hip flexor issue throughout the middle of the season.
- Daniels was on academic probation from the spring semester, likely confirming the rumors we heard about Daniels’ academic peril around the time Everett Golson was suspended for his Honor Code violation.
- Daniels found out about his suspension as he boarded the plane to the Pinstripe Bowl. Daniels caught three passes for 25 yards during the game.
- Notre Dame almost lost another underclassman to the NFL Draft, with Daniels nearly declaring for the draft before making the decision to rejoin his teammates and, “Come back, become one of the top receivers in the nation and see how it goes after that.”
If there’s a positive to this story, it’s that Daniels is taking full accountability for his failings in the classroom.
“I let those guys down, and put pressure on them instead of myself,” Daniels told Fowler. “It’s my fault. I didn’t put in the time and effort necessary… I’m going to carry that pain with me into next season.”
Daniels also talked about the challenges that come with being a student-athlete at Notre Dame, and how it doesn’t come with the shortcuts that exist at other schools.
“We all know Notre Dame is a hard school, especially for an athlete,” Daniels told Fowler. “You can’t really let up at any time. That’s what makes Notre Dame special. It definitely teaches you values that I don’t think you would get anywhere else.”
Daniels has gotten healthy, adding a reported eight pounds of muscle while continuing to work on a reported 4.4 forty and 42-inch vertical leap.
Daniels will return this summer with a degree in sociology still on track, even if he does want to test the NFL waters without playing out his fifth year of eligibility.He’s taking a philosophical approach to his absence, getting counsel from both his father, former Redskins All-Pro Phillip Daniels and quarterback Everett Golson.
Brian Kelly has played a part in his support system as well, assuring Daniels that he’s the team’s top receiver and that he’ll learn from this bump in the road.