This is one of those posts where past is prologue. Or something. It’s also demonstrative of the frustrations that come from following recruiting. I say this because this episode of Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy features a player, USC’s Nelson Agholor, who once set ND-fan’s heart aflutter. And, looking back on it, it would be phenomenal to have him alongside DaVaris Daniels. Think of this column, then, as an exercise in “What Could Have Been.”
IRISH PLAYER TO WATCH: DaVaris Daniels, Senior, WR, 6′ 1.5″, 203 lbs.
Senior DaVaris Daniels went from being one of Notre Dame’s brightest stars to one of its prodigal sons when academics derailed his Spring season. Readmitted to the University, Daniels is the most talented and experienced of Notre Dame’s receivers. As a sophomore, he caught six passes for 115 yards in the National Championship against Alabama. The next season, 2013, Daniels nabbed 49 catches for 745 yards and seven touchdowns. The next-highest yards by a returning player were 209 by Chris Brown. Given the youth and inexperience behind him, Daniels is the key to the Notre Dame’s ability to strike quickly down the field.
Daniels is capable of shredding secondaries, as his two one-hundred yard performances, one against BYU and a gaudy 167 yards against Purdue, will attest and as you can see for yourself below:
ENEMY PLAYER TO WATCH: Nelson Agholor, Junior, WR, 6′ 1″, 190 lbs.
Nelson Agholor. I know it was you. You broke my heart. No, I am not channeling my inner Michael Corleone or setting up a long-winded BC-is-Fredo thing. Nope. What I am doing is longingly thinking back to 2012 when Agholor picked Troy over Notre Dame. Ah, what could have been.
Heading into the 2014 campaign, Agholor is the lone Trojan on the Walter Camp watch list and is a preseason favorite to win the Biletnikoff Award, which goes annually to the nation’s top wide receiver. In 2013, over fourteen games as a starter, Agholor caught 56 passes for 918 yards and six touchdowns. He also returned eighteen punts for 343 yards and two touchdowns, both against Cal, and ten kickoff returns for 175 yards. Agholor was the country’s second-best punt returner and the best in the PAC-12.
Last year against the Irish, Agholor had a fairly workman-like 89 yards receiving, but returned four punts for one hundred yards, total. This year, his performance against Coach VanGorder’s new-look defense could very well spell the difference between a triumphant finish to Notre Dame’s regular season or a shattering end to Notre Dame’s recent streak.