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September 19, 2013

Daniels seeks season long consistency

Some might look to the 82-yard touchdown DaVaris Daniels scored at Purdue as a seminal moment, some kind of leap forward in the ascension of the next great Notre Dame wide receiver.

Daniels shrugs off that suggestion. The junior from Vernon Hills, Ill., sees the play as something he should do with more regularity, another step toward becoming a reliable target for Irish quarterbacks.

“It was a good play, something that should happen every week,” Daniels said. “I’m just trying to keep making plays that way.”

After a standout performance in last year’s national championship game - six receptions for what was then a career high 115 yards - Daniels went to work on route running, defeating press coverage and the details of his position.

Strength and conditioning coordinator Paul Longo pushed Daniels through the offseason in terms of adding muscle and speed. Teammate TJ Jones helped with the finer points of route running.

Daniels tried to put together his definition of a complete, consistent wide receiver.

“It’s just somebody that you know is gonna make a play when a play needs to be made,” Daniels said. “Somebody that’s gonna do it over and over again. That’s the type of person that I wanna be and I’m practicing to become.”

Teammates took notice in fall camp. Daniels made enough plays in August that his two touchdowns against Temple or his multiple scores at Purdue weren’t a surprise around the Guglielmino Athletics Complex.

“The same plays you see him make in the game, he makes in practice,” Jones said. “It’s not a surprise when he makes them in the game because all week long he’s making the tough catches, he’s making the deep catches and he’s running after he catches the ball.”

But rather than make those type of moments the exception Daniels is out to make them the rule.

Last week Daniels made eight catches total for 167 yards, both career highs. His two touchdowns came from 82 and nine yards, respectively, both in the fourth quarter as Notre Dame rallied for a 31-24 win.

Michigan State, ranked the top defense in the country statistically, will again test the consistency Daniels has been working to achieve.

“I think it’s just an every day thing,” Daniels said. “You want to come off the field and the end of the season saying, ‘I did everything I could.’ The end result is gonna be the result no matter what. The only thing that you can really do is focus on today and try to get better and do the things that you know you can do on a consistent basis.”

Putting all that together could leave Daniels in rarified air in terms of program history. He could be the next great Notre Dame receiver.

But looking ahead would be a detriment to getting there.

“To be honest with you, I don’t really look at that far into the future,” Daniels said. “But I mean it’s definitely a good title to have. I can only work on that each day.”

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