NDs DaVaris Daniels will be home in Chicago and on Soldier Field
Posted: 10/03/2012 at 9:03 pm
By: Rachel Terlep
For most of the team, it’ll be a unique experience to play under the lights at Soldier Field, one of the most famous NFL stadiums in the country.
For future NFL draft picks like Manti Te’o and Tyler Eifert, it’ll be another chance to get used to the feel of pro-level facilities.
For DaVaris Daniels, it’ll be home.
While Notre Dame’s unmarred record and the matchup against old rival Miami make this game exciting enough, the sophomore receiver from Vernon Hills, Ill., is looking forward to taking the field his father, Phillip, once played on as a member of the Chicago Bears from 2000-2003.
“I’m excited,” Daniels said. “I’m going back home, playing in front of people (I know). My whole high school is going to be there. It’s also going to be exciting playing on the field my dad used to play on also.”
Daniels paused and smiled before adding, “That’s a crazy feeling. I can’t wait.”
While Phillip Daniels made his name as a hulking defensive end for Seattle, Chicago and Washington, DaVaris is finding his groove among the young Irish receiving corps.
Daniels sat out his freshman year but was expected to help fill the Michael Floyd void this season alongside a handful of unheralded veterans like TJ Jones, Robby Toma, John Goodman and Daniel Smith.
Daniels’ biggest game of the year came against Purdue, when he pulled down four catches for 70 yards. It was in that same game Daniels suffered a high ankle sprain and barely played the following week against Michigan State.
Daniels had another respectable game against Michigan, finishing with three grabs for 40 yards. He very nearly pulled down his first career touchdown against the Wolverines, but his jump ball pass in the end zone was ruled incomplete.
“I tried to do my best (Golden) Tate impression,” Daniels said coyly, referencing the controversial touchdown pass the former Irish and current Seattle receiver grabbed against Green Bay. “But I didn’t get high enough.”
At 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, Daniels is mellow and laid-back — traits he says he got from his mother, Leslie — but has a quiet sense of humor.
For example, he said when he toppled back on his failed touchdown pass and landed among the Michigan band, he said he got a less than warm reception.
“My foot got caught in between one of the trombones, and they wouldn’t help me get it out,” he said.
With star tight end Tyler Eifert held to one catch in two games, Daniels figures to be a major factor in the Irish offense.
Though nursing a hurt ankle for the past two games has slowed Daniels’s growth, head coach Brian Kelly believes Daniels is poised for a breakthrough.
“He just needs to play,” Kelly said of Daniels’s development. “He needs the live action, and he needs to be in there in those big games, and he was not. So it’s a loss from that standpoint. We didn’t take a step back for him, but we didn’t take the leap forward we wanted to make. He’s another young player for us.”