The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will be looking to put their best foot forward in 2014 as they look to make a run at the inaugural college football playoff this postseason. Helping their cause will be the return of wide receiver DaVaris Daniels who was suspended from the school for the spring semester due to undisclosed academic violations. Daniels’ return is a triumph for the student and a major boost to the football team this fall.
Last season, Daniels finished second on the team with 49 catches for 745 yards and seven touchdowns. With the team’s No. 1 receiver TJ Jones using up the last of his eligibility last season, Daniels was expected to slide right into the No. 1 slot for 2014 and provide some leadership for the receiving corps. That plan was put into jeopardy, obviously, when Daniels found himself in academic hot water and put the Irish in a bind for receiver depth.
With Daniels out of the mix, Notre Dame would have turned to a young and inexperienced group to carry the passing game in 2014. After Daniels, the next leading returning receiver for 2014 is Chris Brown who caught just 15 passes for 209 yards with a touchdown during his sophomore season in 2013. Behind him, no other receiver who caught more than 10 passes was returning this fall.
While there’s no telling whether or not the young receiving corps would have stepped up to the challenge, it will be a major comfort for Brian Kelly and whoever winds up starting at quarterback this fall to have some veteran leadership returning with Daniels in the mix. With his academic troubles behind him, can Daniels step up as a leader on offense for Notre Dame in 2014?