McDaniel honors friend, steps up for Irish

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- On Oct. 14, Gavin McDaniel and Jacob Logan jumped from a cliff into Possum Kingdom Lake, 80 miles west of Forth Worth, Texas, the way most in that area do on nice days outside.

"I think my brother jumped off first and [Logan] jumped off next," Notre Dame running back Cam McDaniel said. "My brother came up, and he didn't."

A five-day search ensued before the body of 17-year-old Logan -- a senior receiver for nationally ranked Coppell High -- turned up, devastating the community.

This past Saturday in Norman, Okla., Cam McDaniel offered a tribute in front of his family, friends and coaches who made the three-hour trip, along with the millions who watched the most-viewed college football game of the season. Returning kicks in place of the ill George Atkinson III, McDaniel switched jersey numbers with cornerback Jalen Brown, wearing No. 21 to honor his fallen friend.

"Just an extreme blessing, an extreme honor beyond what words can explain," said McDaniel, normally No. 33. "Just a tribute to my friend and former teammate Jacob Logan -- phenomenal young man. He was a sophomore when I was a senior in high school, amazing playmaker."

"It's extremely humbling, it's eye-opening," McDaniel added. "It just reminds us that life is but a vapor."

Little brother Gavin honored Logan five days after his death by rushing for a 75-yard touchdown on his first carry, en route to a 196-yard performance that earned him player-of-the-week honors from area media outlets.

In helping the Irish to arguably their biggest victory in 19 years, Cam McDaniel returned four kickoffs for 77 yards this past Saturday, on par with the team average. He has done everything asked and then some when his number has been called in the backfield, however rare that might be when playing behind Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick and Atkinson.

The sophomore has carried the ball 20 times this season for 114 yards and a touchdown. He has added two catches for 41 yards, this after spending most of the spring at cornerback before cross-training at both positions in camp after more freshmen arrived on campus.

McDaniel, who had not played corner since pee-wee, said he has taken the cue from new starters such as Matthias Farley and KeiVarae Russell in being ready to step in at any moment, just as those two were when Jamoris Slaughter's and Lo Wood's seasons ended because of Achilles injuries.

In limited action, he has left an impression.

"He's got a great deal of confidence in himself that when you call upon him, he's going to play really good football," coach Brian Kelly said. "He feels like more than anything else that he will be a huge contributor to our success, and we believe in that as well, so you have a guy that knows that he's going to impact the program. It's just a matter of time."