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August 12, 2013

Daniels catching consistency

DaVaris Daniels shined brightest in Notre Dame’s darkest hour.

Final statistics from the national championship game showed a lopsided Notre Dame loss coupled with a productive performance from Daniels as he made six catches for 115 yards, leading all receivers in the game. It was Notre Dame’s only 100-yard receiving performance of the season.

That output accounted for 23 percent of Daniels’ season total (490) and perhaps shed light on what could be a breakout season this fall.

“Individually I would say consistency is my main thing,” Daniels said. “After the national championship in the spring consistency is something that was brought up at times. Individually I think that was my main focus going into this camp.”

Emerging as a reliable target for quarterback Tommy Rees is something Daniels hopes to accomplish during fall practice.

Daniels, a junior, and senior TJ Jones bear the responsibility of steadying an inexperienced receiving corps. Only two receivers return with significant game experience. Chris Brown played in all 12 games but only made two catches for 56 yards as a freshman. Daniel Smith caught seven balls for 47 yards.

Gone to graduation are Robby Toma and John Goodman. Tight end Tyler Eifert, who led the team in receiving yards, was a first round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Turning into a top-notch receiver is something Daniels has talked about with head coach Brian Kelly and wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock.

“Daniels will be a legitimate BCS wide receiver,” Kelly said. “He will be a guy that you’ll have to pay attention to. He’s doing a great job of running vertically, getting the football to him will be important, especial vertically. I think we're going to have great balance, probably the best balance in the wide receiving corps since I’ve been here, across the board.”

Daniels honed in on some details of the position starting in spring ball, particularly route running. He and Jones spent extra time on being more precise in those movements.

Rees also rekindled his rapport with Daniels during offseason 7-on-7 sessions, something that carried into camp as the duo roomed together on the road at Camp Shiloh. Before the season begins Daniels wants to prove to Rees he’s a reliable target.

Daniels knows what that player will look like in an ideal world.

“He’s just consistent,” Daniels said. “He’s somebody that everybody can rely on. They know he’s gonna make a play when his number is called. It’s just something I’ve been working at every day, trying to be that guy that Tommy knows is there no matter what.”

Being in position to become that player will likely have as much to do with experience from last season as it does with comfort level overall. Daniels has never felt more prepared to fulfill his potential.

“This year I know everything that’s gonna come at me,” he said. “I know the offense pretty well. I think this is the most comfortable that I’ve ever been, ever, since I’ve been here. I’m looking forward to it.”

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