SOUTH BEND – DaVaris Daniels wants to make the leap to elite receiver for Notre Dame.
The 6-foot-1, 203-pound junior displayed how dangerous he can be in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s 31-24 win at Purdue.
First, Daniels pulled a pass away from cornerback Antoine Lewis in the back right corner of the end zone 13 seconds into the fourth to tie the game at 17. Then, 2:07 later, Daniels got behind cornerback Ricardo Allen down the right sideline, hauled in Tommy Rees’ pass at the Boilermakers’ 43, tiptoed down the sideline while shrugging off Allen with a stiff arm for an 82-yard touchdown and a 24-17 lead.
As good as those two touchdowns were, Daniels wants to do more as the No. 22 Irish (2-1) play host to Michigan State (3-0) on Saturday.
“You want to come off the field at the end of the season, saying that I did everything that I could,” Daniels said. “The end result is going to be there no matter what. The only thing you can do is focus on today and try to get better and do the things that you know you can do and do them on a consistent basis.
“I’m just inconsistent. I’m trying to work at that every day. … It’s just something I need to work at. It is something you can’t really teach, you just have to do it on your own.”
Daniels’ four touchdowns and 299 yards leads all Notre Dame receivers, and he is second in receptions with 17. Daniels finished with career highs in receptions (8) and yard (167) against Purdue, but he had only two catches for 37 yards in the first half.
“He’s two quarters of the way,” coach Brian Kelly said. “He needs to be four quarters of the way. He can obviously impact a football game. We want him to impact it for four quarters, and he’s capable of doing that.
“It just requires, you know, that mental approach, which is coming, you know. And you can see it. I mean, you can see it in practice. You can see it in the way he’s maturing off the field. He’s doing all the little things.
“You know, to be that great player, you’ve got to have it all going for you in everything that you do, and he’s growing up and he’s getting better. But there’s definitely more there for him to grow into.”
Cornerback KeiVarae Russell said he can see Daniels continue to get better because the receiver works hard at everything he does.
“He’s determined to be one of the greatest receivers that ever came here,” Russell said. “He even told me that going from last year, that he wanted to be the best. I was like, ‘I don’t doubt you. I think you will.’
“You can see he’s totally different from last year. Last year, he didn’t have one touchdown. He played a great role last year but didn’t have one single touchdown. He has four in three games (this year). You can see the difference.”
Daniels said he started to grow more into the receiver he wants to be after the end of last season. Daniels was one of the few bright spots for the Irish in a 42-14 loss to Alabama in the BCS championship game, catching six passes for 115 yards.
“I’m think I’m getting there,” Daniels said. “I still have to work every day. There are still a lot of things I can improve on. I’ve come a long way, but I still have a ways to go.
“That’s my only thing, I’ll keep working at it.”