NOTRE DAME — It’s his weekend off, but Cam McDaniel will be spending his bye week surrounded by football.
Oh, and Mexican food.
Like many of his teammates, the Notre Dame freshman running back is heading back home to see his family for the first time since June. McDaniel is looking forward to a long weekend back in Coppell, Texas, and reuniting with his dog, Champ.
“That will definitely be fun to get back in the Texas atmosphere for a little bit,” McDaniel said. “Get some Mexican food, I’m excited about that.”
First on his agenda is seeing his brother, Gavin, a sophomore at Coppell High School, play against Coppell’s long-standing rival, Southlake Carroll.
Cam is only a year removed from the current Coppell squad, but he’s coming back as more than just an alumnus. He’s coming back as a Notre Dame football player.
“Coach may have me talk with the team a little bit, so that’s always fun,” he said. “(This game) is a huge deal for our city.”
The next day, he’ll be watching his youngest brother, T.J., play a fifth grade youth football game.
Notre Dame is taking its toll on McDaniel: He’s willing to admit there’s something out there bigger than high school football in Texas.
“This is just on a whole new level,” he said. “This is the University of Notre Dame, and the atmosphere around here is just phenomenal. My high school coach actually got to come up here for the Michigan State game and he was just loving every bit of it.”
Being away from home for four months is a big demand from college freshmen, head coach Brian Kelly said. After Notre Dame wraps up its last practice of the week today, Kelly said several players are homebound.
“You have to understand, Aaron Lynch, those kids have been up here on campus since June 16,” Kelly said. “They have not been home since June 16, and that’s hard for an 18-year-old kid. So this break comes at a good time for our guys to get home and see their families a little bit. So any momentum that is lost in that is gained by our guys getting a chance to get home.”
Freshman cornerback Josh Atkinson is hopping a flight home to Stockton, Calif., although his twin brother, George, is staying behind in South Bend. Like McDaniel, Josh is excited to see his old high school team play Friday night.
“And they’re excited to see me, as well,” he said. “I got to play last week. They’re going to want to ask me a million questions and stuff about how I like it up here. And I love it up here.”
Now that he’s run out of the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium a handful of times, Atkinson thinks seeing his high school football field will elicit some mixed emotions.
“Seeing where I came from and everything and knowing where I’m at right now,” he said. “I’m going to try to coach up some of my old high school teammates, and that should be fun.”