INDIANAPOLIS -- A full-year removed from football, Vernon Hills, Illinois, native and former Notre Dame wide receiver DaVaris Daniels is ready to chase his dream of playing in the NFL.
"I’m ready. I know I’m ready for the NFL," Daniels said Thursday at the NFL scouting combine.
Daniels, whose father Phillip played defensive end for the Chicago Bears from 2000-03, appeared on the brink of stardom at Notre Dame after catching 49 passes for 745 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, his second year playing for the Fighting Irish.
However, Daniels’ career took an unexpected turn after the school suspended him on two separate occasions for academics and academic dishonesty, forcing the redshirt junior to miss the entire 2014 season.
"Just knowing what kind of season I was going to have, that I was ready to put my name up there with top guys at Notre Dame, and having that all taken away from me; that was pretty hard to deal with," Daniels said.
Daniels decided to declare for the draft when it became evident he would never play again for Notre Dame. In preparation for the combine and the upcoming NFL season, Daniels has been training at EFT Sports Performance in Highland Park, Illinois, along with ex-Irish tight end Ben Koyack.
"It’s over now and I’m moving forward," Daniels said Thursday. "I’m excited and focused on what’s next for me. I grew a lot. The whole thing, the way it went down, really changed my outlook on life.
"Physically and mentally I’m ready for the NFL. I think I made the right decision."
Daniels said he leaned on his father, Phillip, for support throughout the entire Notre Dame ordeal. The elder Daniels serves as a motivation for his son, who grew up around the NFL as Phillip played a total of 15 years in the league in Chicago (2000-03), Seattle (1996-99), and Washington (04-10).
"I’ve seen every moment of my dad’s NFL career," Daniels said. "Being around the game for so long puts that fire in me to make it, and do something for myself. That’s pretty big motivation. He’s been really supportive. It’s not easy having that come down on your son. But we have to move forward together.
"We’re a family. We had to do something positive. It’s time to do something positive for the Daniels family. I’m trying to do that."