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Recruiting: Daniels’ pledge brings class to 20

Matt Gamber | Thursday, September 30, 2010

Notre Dame secured its 20th verbal commitment for the high school Class of 2011 Tuesday, when ESPN-150 wide receiver DaVaris Daniels announced his plans to join the Irish next season.

“He’s a real special talent and can do a lot of things on the football field,” Irish recruiting expert Mike Frank said of Daniels, who has played quarterback, running back and receiver for Vernon Hills (Ill.) High School. “He’s a little bit raw because he’s not as experienced at the position as some other guys, but he’s a very gifted player.”

At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Daniels already possesses the size many coaches would covet at a receiver position. That shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise, however, as Daniels is the son of Washington Redskins defensive end Phillip Daniels.

“He can really move left and right and make people miss,” said Frank, who runs the ESPN.com-affiliate Irish Sports Daily. “Lots of guys with his size can’t make people miss and create the big play, but his speed and size are a rare combination, and he can do those things.”

Daniels had appeared a likely Irish commit for quite some time, but before he could commit to Notre Dame, he had to continue his hard work in the classroom, Frank said.

“He’s shown he’s serious about it. I think he’s just a guy who had a little bit of a hole to crawl out of [after freshman year],” Frank said of Daniels’ academics, adding it looks like he’s on track to enroll. “He’s wanted to be at Notre Dame, he’s shown he’s willing to work at it, and it’s nice to see a kid put in the effort and realize a dream of his.”

Daniels joins a group that looks to have all the makings of a top-10, or better, type of class. He also joins California high school standout George Atkinson as the cornerstones of an exceptionally talented receiver class.

“With [Daniels] and George Atkinson, you’ve got playmakers with pure speed who can play on the outside in this offense,” Frank said. “It’s a perfect offense for them. They have the speed to run by you, and the athletic ability to make people miss. And in the spread, there are more opportunities to make people miss, run after the catch, and make a lot of big plays.”

While skill players like Daniels and Atkinson are certainly important, one area where Irish coach Brian Kelly and his staff have really made strides has been their ability to recruit a balanced class that includes top players on both sides of the ball, both up front and on the back end.

It remains to be seen exactly how many scholarships are still available due to uncertainty regarding potential transfers, early departures and fifth-year players, but suffice it to say Kelly’s first class is nearly complete.

“There are no real gaping holes in this class. If you’re looking at positions where you’d love to take another guy, I think you’d say safety is important, with a guy like Wayne Lyons out there who’s a dynamite player,” Frank said of the sought-after Florida native. “If you can get a guy out of Florida who’s played against great players, it’s not a huge step up [to the college level], and he could contribute right way.”

With only a few spots left, Frank said the Irish are in a good position to be selective and take special talents at other positions, like outside linebacker (Ishaq Williams, Ray Drew), running back (Savon Huggins) and offensive tackle (Antonio Richardson).

For more on Notre Dame recruiting, check out Mike Frank’s irishsportsdaily.com. E-mail Mike at [email protected] and tell him The Observer sent you.