SOUTH BEND, Ind. — One of Cam McDaniel's first memories involves crying, and a lot of it.
As a toddler, the Texas high school team his dad coached lost a state championship game. The notion of losing upset McDaniel so much he said he couldn't stop crying.
"I remember being in the Houston Astrodome as a four-year-old, bawling because we lost the game," McDaniel said. "On the drive back home, I was bawling. I don't know, I guess that's my passion to win."
Fast-forward nearly two decades later, and McDaniel has channeled that hatred of losing into earning a captaincy on Notre Dame. He's one of the more vocal players on the team, the kind of guy who will stand up and make a speech to rally his teammates.
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But he's also been a lead-by-example guy over his four years in South Bend, too, as quarterback Everett Golson pointed out.
"He's a great leader," Golson said. "He's the type of guy that really just leads by example. He's becoming more of a vocal leader. He's very accountable, and he expects a lot out of his teammates. That's what it takes to be a captain, so I'm happy for him."
McDaniel is part of Notre Dame's three-headed backfield monster, joining with ultra-talented sophomores Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston to comprise what Notre Dame hopes is a better-than-effective ground game. How Notre Dame divvies up rushing attempts this fall remains to be seen, but McDaniel's tough, patient running style should be valuable for the Irish offense.
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While at Notre Dame, McDaniel has filled plenty of roles beyond being the team's leading rusher a year ago. He cross-trained at cornerback when Notre Dame's depth at that position was razor-thin in 2012. He's returned kicks and done the special teams dirty work.
Now he has a new role as a captain, though he said getting that designation doesn't change how he's approaching his senior season.
"At the end of the day, a 'C' on the chest is a 'C' on the chest," McDaniel said. "It's a tremendous honor for this team to be selected by your teammates and your coaches. To be able to steward that responsibility is, again, a tremendous honor. But it's just going back to the fundamentals of the game, leading when you have the opportunities to lead and playing as hard as you can and being an accountable football player."