DaVaris Daniels: 'Feel like a villain'

Wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, one of five players at the center of a Notre Dame academic dishonesty investigation that has spanned nearly two months, said the length of the probe and the school's lack of communication have been unfair.

"If they had enough evidence, you'd think it'd be over by now," Daniels, a redshirt junior and the team's second-leading receiver last season, told ESPN.com. "Nothing should take this long. That's just my opinion."

Notre Dame notified Daniels this week that his hearing with the Office of General Counsel will be next Friday. In the weeks after the hearing, the four players withheld from practices and games since Aug. 15 -- Daniels, Ishaq Williams, Kendall Moore and KeiVarae Russell -- should get clarity on the investigation into alleged misconduct.

The Irish also have withheld Eilar Hardy since Aug. 29 for potential academic dishonesty.

The general counsel started evaluating evidence of impropriety in late July. Daniels said he believes the five players' hearings will take place at different times next Thursday and Friday.

The players can use the football complex, eat with teammates and work out with strength coach Paul Longo. They cannot attend team meetings.

However, visiting the facility -- or even walking through campus -- has become increasingly difficult for Daniels. He said he feels like an outcast in South Bend. He has been to the football weight room maybe four or five times since mid-August. Otherwise, he has worked out on his own.

Daniels declined to discuss details of the investigation questioning whether the players wrote their own papers. But he acknowledged Notre Dame is examining at least a handful of emails among the players and a student trainer, who's also a mutual friend, pertaining to her potential influence over written papers.

Daniels maintained he writes his own papers.

"It makes you feel like a villain. We'd go out to eat together, and people want to talk about the situation," Daniels said. "What do you say?"

Daniels said he believes the emails involving him lack context and don't properly explain his side.

Daniels said his suspension during the spring semester for poor grades should highlight that stance -- in other words, wouldn't cheating improve his grades and not hurt them? Daniels was off campus for the spring after failing to keep a 2.0 grade-point average. The school reinstated him in May.

The student trainer has been interviewed by the school, said Daniels, who spoke with a university attorney for about an hour Aug. 15 and was asked academic-related questions dating back to 2011. He first heard about the investigation on Twitter, where within a few hours he received hateful messages from fans.

Since then, he has heard from a few assistant coaches and talked once with head coach Brian Kelly. The players were encouraged by an assistant coach to "stay off the grid," Daniels said, but were not told to keep silent.

The players are still on scholarship while attending classes, and Daniels said in-person interaction with the staff has been fair but scarce. The general counsel was silent before the hearing notification, he said.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick on Friday declined comment through a department spokesman. Kelly told reporters this week that he has an opinion on the investigative process but "I'm not going to share it," and that he has talked with Swarbrick regularly on how to "make this process go smoother going forward."

The 3-0 Irish play at Syracuse on Saturday.

"We've probably talked to one person every week and a half, if anything -- the length is the worst part," Daniels said. "We go on campus and we don't know exactly what the professors think. Maybe it's not that bad but it feels that way sometimes. We see our teammates on campus but aren't part of the team. It's rough."

Daniels has considered all options, including leaving the school to play at the Football Championship Subdivision level or train for the NFL draft, but he realizes that "wouldn't make sense for me."

The Daniels family has discussed their rights and whether legal action is required, but Daniels doesn't know what would come of that. He has had no interaction with the NCAA.

"We don't really feel we have options," Daniels said. "We don't really have any power here. ... If they keep dragging it out like this, then something's going to happen. I don't know what."

To pass the time, Daniels and three other players are coaching a women's interhall flag football team. The PE Pyros are 2-0.

"We try to get our mind off the whole situation," said Daniels, who was hoping for a breakout season after 49 catches, 745 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013.