Daniels returns to contact

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- DaVaris Daniels was hesitant to go across the middle Friday. Then he got hit and got up, and it was all back to business for the redshirt freshman receiver.

"It was just almost like a confidence boost," Daniels said. "Because taking a hit, you kind of don't want to take it at first, but once it's over you feel about the same as you did before the hit, so it was kind of normal. I'm happy to be back healthy again."

So, too, is Notre Dame, which welcomed back arguably its best deep threat this past weekend -- on schedule following the roughly six-week prognosis that Daniels was given after suffering a broken left clavicle in the Irish's 21-6 win Nov. 10 at Boston College.

Daniels' first full day of contact came Friday, which was preceded by three weeks in a red, non-contact jersey and participation in some 7-on-7 drills to help him keep a rhythm going. (The Irish had off for Christmas break Dec. 21-27.)

As Daniels readies for the Jan. 7 Discover BCS National Championship against Alabama, the Irish are hoping he can continue the ascent he was on before suffering the injury, as the first-year contributor had 25 catches for 375 yards.

Daniels' breakout performance came one week before the injury, when he hauled in seven catches for 86 yards in helping the Irish overcome a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit against Pitt.

"He’s a really good player that understands that his reps are going to be based upon how he practices and how he performs," coach Brian Kelly said. "I’m certain that he’ll play a role in the game."

Daniels came down hard on his shoulder following an incomplete deep pass to the end zone in the third quarter of the win over the Eagles. He knew something was not right, but he did not know it could have ended his season.

Successful surgery followed the next day, with Daniels rooting on Notre Dame harder than anyone since the late game date maximized his chance to return.

"I'm feeling really good, getting better day by day," Daniels said. "It's not 100 percent, but I'm good."