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Irish A-to-Z: Cam McDaniel

Jul 23, 2014, 9:25 PM EDT

BYU v Notre Dame Getty Images

Against just about all odds, senior Cam McDaniel led the Irish in rushing in 2013. With Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston joining him in the backfield in 2014, he faces similarly long odds to do it again.

But the betting man shouldn’t count McDaniel out. Even though he’s not the biggest, strongest or fastest back on the roster, McDaniel has been a productive football player for the Irish every chance he’s been given. In 2013, he worked his way to the top of a five-headed depth chart by being reliable as both an inside and outside runner, grinding out the tough yards when George Atkinson and Amir Carlisle couldn’t.

With the depth chart down to three backs, McDaniel doesn’t seem to have the skills that Folston and Bryant possess. But he does have the trust of his head coach, something that Kelly’s shown to be mighty important for a running back.

Let’s take a look a closer look at the Texas native and the challenge he faces in 2014.

 

CAM MCDANIEL
5’10” 207 lbs.
Senior, No. 33

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

McDaniel was just a three-star running back, even though he ran for over 1,900 yards as an All-State back at Coppell, earning District MVP at the highest level of play in Texas high school football. McDaniel was sitting on offers from programs like Stanford, Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa and Iowa State, but when Notre Dame came calling, it was all but over.

McDaniel committed in late November, where he joined soon to decommit Justice Hayes and George Atkinson in the 2011 recruiting class (who was then viewed as a receiver). Here’s what Kelly said about McDaniel on Signing Day.

“Here’s a young man that’s got great durability. Played at the highest level in Texas,” Kelly said. “Carried the ball inside. This is not a guy that lined up at the slot and they threw screens to. This is a guy that was able to run. The real sell for us was his durability, toughness and his ability to play through some injury and also have a dynamic piece to him as well. He can catch the football. He can play in all of the special teams for us. And he’s physical enough at 190 pounds that he can run inside. He’s got an inside presence.
We needed somebody that could bang it up inside as well. And his durability and his ability to play through some nicks and a couple of injuries was a huge component for us. He’s got good speed at the top end of competition.”

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2011): Played in eight games, mostly on special teams. Made two tackles and also returned two kicks for 24 yards. Had three carries for nine yards on the season.

Sophomore Season (2012): Saw action in all 13 games, one of the team’s best special teamers. Rushed 23 times for 125 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry and scoring one touchdown. Cross-trained and briefly saw action as a cornerback. Made five tackles on special teams.

Junior Season (2013): Played in all 13 games, starting four. Led Notre Dame in carries (152) and rushing yards (705). Tied for the team lead with three rushing touchdowns.

 

UPSIDE POTENTIAL

At this point, we’ve seen the player that McDaniel is. He’s a tough, well-rounded, versatile running back. And on a roster that was left off-balance with Cierre Wood departing with a year of eligibility remaining and Atkinson and Carlisle not living up to expectations at the position, McDaniel served as a more than competent fill-in.

At 4.6 yards per carry, McDaniels’ lack of explosiveness is statistically obvious. And pushing 210 pounds, he’s still not the type of pound-it-out short-yardage ball carrier that you want to move the chains or pound it in for six points. That role will likely go to Bryant or Folston, two players who naturally carry that weight better, not to mention have an extra gear.

But McDaniel is a natural running from the shotgun, capable of seeing a hole and finding daylight. And while most expect to see that sophomore duo have a breakout season, McDaniel’s utility alone will get him enough playing time to stay happy.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

Count me among those who expect to see McDaniel a little bit leaner and lighter in 2014. Forced to be the big back in an offense that desperately needed George Atkinson to play up to his weight, taking off 10 pounds could help add a bit of elusiveness to McDaniel, a skill he showed previous to last season.

Ultimately, how you see McDaniel’s season playing out depends on how you see Folston and Bryant. I’m a believer in the young duo, but also think there’s plenty to get out of a veteran that’s seen a lot of action like McDaniel. Whether that’s as the team’s third-down back, or sharing time in the backfield with Folston or Bryant flexed outside, McDaniel is the type of player who will do whatever it takes to help the team.

Does that mean making tackles on special teams? Maybe. Does that mean wearing a ‘C’ on his jersey? Offensively, who’s a better option? McDaniel is a supremely confident athlete, hardly willing to “step aside” for the young rising stars to own this backfield.

That type of pride and veteran leadership is what a winning program is built on. And in McDaniel, Notre Dame has a wonderful example to young players.

 

***

The Irish A-to-Z
Josh Atkinson
Nicky Baratti
Alex Bars
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Justin Brent
Kyle Brindza
Chris Brown
Jalen Brown
Greg Bryant
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Amir Carlisle
Austin Collinsworth
Ben Councell
Scott Daly
Sheldon Day
Michael Deeb
Steve Elmer
Matthias Farley
Tarean Folston
Everett Golson
Jarrett Grace
Conor Hanratty
Eilar Hardy
Mark Harrell
Jay Hayes
Matt Hegarty
Mike Heuerman
Kolin Hill
Corey Holmes
Chase Hounshell
Torii Hunter Jr.
Jarron Jones
DeShone Kizer
Ben Koyack
Christian Lombard
Tyler Luatua
Cole Luke
Nick Martin
Greer Martini
Jacob Matuska

  1. papadec - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    Hard to believe he’s a senior, already. Where did that time go? I’d love to see him top last year’s carries, yards & TDs. I’d have no problem with him being named a Captain. As a matter of fact, I’d like to see it.

    • dickasman - Jul 24, 2014 at 2:14 AM

      Rudy. Cute story but Obama just called to tell me that after he legalizes border crossings, he’s going to mandate to have a Mexican football player on each team.

      Bye bye McDaniel…..herrrroooo McMartinez.

      • danirish - Jul 24, 2014 at 11:25 PM

        Don’t go away angry, just go away.

  2. johngaltisspeaking - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:15 PM

    Texas 3 star recruit….. Plays with a ton of passion and is not afraid to get knocked around…. There isn’t a state that has more quality 3 star players than Texas. If you had a full team of Cam McDaniel there is no doubt in my mind that you could compete at the SEC Level. I am glad we are starting to recruit in the big state. Our recruiting has been lacking in Texas and it seems to have taken off since Brian K stepped on Campus. Here is to landing Soso…..

    • c4evr - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:34 PM

      He’s been overlooked, underrated, and not considered an ‘every down back’ his entire Irish career, and all he’s done is overachieve with a grit and drive reminiscent of ND’s glory years.

      • nudeman - Jul 24, 2014 at 2:13 PM

        Yes, but barring injury 2013 will be his high water mark in terms of activity.
        No way he gets 152 carries this year given the guys ahead of him and Kelly’s pass happy nature. I’ll say this for Cam:

        88 carries
        4.8 Avg
        16 Receptions

        I love Cam/You love Cam/We ALL love Cam
        And I actually think he’ll play on Sundays as an occasional 3rd down back and a ST dude.
        But Folston and Bryant are just better and there’s only so many touches to go around

      • c4evr - Jul 24, 2014 at 2:38 PM

        That’s generous to say he’ll be playing on Sunday. Not so sure I’d go that far. In my mind, he just embodies the college player experience. That’s what’s missing from today’s endorsement laden landscape and, incidentally, why I value watching kids who play for the love of the game.

      • nudeman - Jul 24, 2014 at 2:55 PM

        Don’t get me wrong; he won’t ever start on Sunday, unless it’s the kickoff team.
        And he won’t have some sort of 12 year career.
        But there is always room for an over achiever who just wills himself to be a contributor.

        Tom Waddle, Don Beebe, Wes Welker and others who don’t come to mind right now. Those guys might have more or less talent than Cam, I don’t know.
        But they all have toughness, guts and huge amounts of desire.

      • onward2victory - Jul 24, 2014 at 4:44 PM

        I actually agree with Nude that I bet he makes an NFL roster. He is a better athlete than he gets credit for. Quick, strong, natural runner, shifty, low center of gravity, good (not great) speed. I love the kid and you’re never going to have to worry about any off field issues. I bet when the ND pro day comes around he surprises us with a 4.6/4.7 range 40.

  3. c4evr - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:36 PM

    You know, if Kelly could ever rediscover the draw or screen pass, this kid might have a breakout year…

  4. johngaltisfelching - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:41 PM

    If I was John Galt I would see if I could buy Trojans and KY in bulk

  5. johngaltisfelching - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:42 PM

    If johngaltisspeaking how could John gal the delaying?

  6. johngaltisfelching - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:44 PM

    If johngaltisspeaking how could johngaltbefelating?

    • dickasman - Jul 24, 2014 at 2:17 AM

      Dude you’re kinda like annoying n stuff. Stop copying me

  7. johngaltisfelching - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:45 PM

    Oh there, spoken like a wolverine.

  8. iamgolden4life - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:59 PM

    I would also like to add that Cam is an excellent blocker as well. He is not afraid to get in there with on coming pass rushers. I think its great we have a veteran RB who shows great leadership qualities for his young team. I’m gonna go on record and say this team will be the most explosive and fun to watch team in quite sometime. We’ve got all positions offensively loaded, and with depth behind. Once again we have a lot to be excited about. WeAreND!!!

  9. onward2victory - Jul 24, 2014 at 1:36 AM

    Keith you used the wrong photo.

    • blackirish23 - Jul 24, 2014 at 8:41 AM

      You stole my line:-)

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Jul 24, 2014 at 2:15 PM

      Keith, not only the wrong picture, but not one word in your article about the media frenzy over his helmet getting knocked off to reveal his hollywood handsome good looks. Its like writing about about Manti and not mentioning the catfishing story.

      • onward2victory - Jul 24, 2014 at 4:46 PM

        O/U on the number of times announcers mention that picture this season: 8.5

      • blackirish23 - Jul 24, 2014 at 8:48 PM

        @ Onward – I’ll put those odds at 10. It will be mentioned in all games, but the picture itself will be shown only 10 times, so I’m going with over your 8.5.

  10. yaketyyacc - Jul 24, 2014 at 5:40 AM

    exciting describes McDaniel’s style every time he gets the ball. and to think Folston and Bryant help to make Notre Dame’s backfield an awesome trio. add to that Golson and Zaire. are the Four Horsemen riding again? it may be the wrong photo, sure is the right player. Go Cam! Go Irish!

  11. 4horsemenrideagain - Jul 24, 2014 at 9:43 AM

    CMC may not have the top end speed of Bryant or Folston, but both youngsters could make leaps and bounds by watching the way CMC waits for the hole to develop and almost always makes the proper plant and cut.

    for example, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bs9JoJ_cU_0#t=268

    at 4:18 he gives an education to another youngster (Su’a Cravens) and makes Cravens look pretty silly. admittedly, he doesn’t take this one to the house and instead gets brought down 15 yards or so after making the cut, but the point is that unless CMC reads that block right and makes that great cut, he doesn’t get those 15 extra yards. that’s the virtue of CMC. if there’s a hole there to find, he’s going to find it (cue the snickering about “finding the hole”).

    it may be a bit awkward to name a guy as captain who is only going to be on the field for special teams and 25% of the time on offense, but if he’s really a leader and if the other guys listen to him then he’ll be a fine captain whether or not he’s the #1 RB.

    • blackirish23 - Jul 24, 2014 at 10:39 AM

      BK’s speech at the end of the video gets me pumped up!!

      Let’s go ND!!

    • liv4nd - Jul 24, 2014 at 9:01 PM

      I actually will be surprised if he is NOT a C! If BK is smart he will be a captain and if Greg or T put the ball on the turf or otherwise don’t run hard I am sure a game of Cam every down will fire those youngsters up!

      Go Cam…Go Irish!

  12. johngaltisspeaking - Jul 24, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    If you compare Cam to say Atkinson, Cam is just a much tougher player… I thought Atkinson was good but he was a little light on his feet. And I really mean a little light on his feet. He might be the second gay player in the NFL that is if he ever made it to the NFL. I couldn’t stand watching the kid he ran upright and if a feather hit the guy he would fall down.

    • goirishgo - Jul 24, 2014 at 1:47 PM

      Cam is a tough young man. The most recent comparison I can make is to Theo Riddick – not necessarily in terms of running style but in terms of heart. Both have a lot of it.

    • nudeman - Jul 24, 2014 at 3:00 PM

      Atkinson is a long shot to even make the Raiders practice squad, unless they do a solid for daddy and keep him around.
      Gifted track guy but – let’s be honest here – a poor football player.
      Never saw anyone since Willie Gault who played so timid. They gay thing is just out of line and frankly irrelevant.

      • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 24, 2014 at 3:19 PM

        Maybe irrelevant if he is a bear but not if he is a twink.

  13. irishmob89 - Jul 24, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    I like Cam, but it’s going to be hard to keep Bryant and Folston off the field this season.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 24, 2014 at 1:28 PM

      Bryant and Folston are both Top SEC Players. How we even got them is beyond me.

      • blackirish23 - Jul 24, 2014 at 8:51 PM

        We got them because Notre Dame is SEC football talent with Ivy League academic standards, the best of both worlds for those few student athletes that can meet both criteria.

  14. bernhtp - Jul 24, 2014 at 3:10 PM

    Even with Bryant and Folston playing well, I expect Cam to be used on third down quite a bit. He is dependable for a couple of yards inside, knows how to block, and is a good receiver. The snag he made in the BG game was impressive.

    • c4evr - Jul 24, 2014 at 4:07 PM

      If Kelly stays true to form, CM will get most of his carries in the 4th quarter when the coach does his impression of Mike Brey’s burn offense.

  15. danirish - Jul 24, 2014 at 11:31 PM

    First things first: johngaltisspeaking/johngaltisfelching/dickasman – hardy har har. Ok, go away. It is bad enough with the shenanigans but for one person to sock 3 accounts?

    Second:

    It finally seems we are looking at a senior. I was noticing with the players previewed so far that a lot of their pics were in high school or the most recent Blue/Gold game – YOUTH!

    Then there is Cam McD. Going to miss this kid. Bet he plays a solid year and we see a lot of Zaire/McDaniel packages in the small red zone.

    Is it football season yet?

    GO IRISH!

  16. irishlad19 - Jul 25, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    The young man is a gamer, when you need yards you give the ball to him.
    Would love to see him have a great season, get drafted by a team that appreciates his skills.
    One way or another, he is a credit to ND, we want more kids like him!

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