The natural progression goes something like this: Michael Floyd to Tyler Eifert to T.J. Jones to TBD. Notre Dame will need a new top pass-catching target in 2014, and the guy in the driver's seat for that role is DaVaris Daniels.
It's a message that receivers coach/interim offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock has told Daniels for the last few years: Eventually, it'll be your turn.
"We expect a lot from DaVaris," Denbrock said at Yankee Stadium prior to the Pinstripe Bowl. "We're hard on him. We work him hard and we coach him hard, he does a nice job of responding and working his way through. I think we all continue to see him mature and grow. I think that's just going to continue."
Daniels finished 2013 with 49 catches for 745 yards and seven touchdowns, though a mid-season lull — the product of a "lower body" injury, as Daniels put it — muted those numbers. In Notre Dame's first three games, Daniels had 17 catches, four touchdowns and 299 yards.
Over Notre Dame's next six games, Daniels only had 197 yards on 15 receptions with no touchdowns. Then, in his final four games, Daniels caught 17 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns.
Notre Dame wants Daniels to learn how to play through those minor injuries, the ones that won't keep him sidelined but will force him to play at 75 or 80 percent. It's a mentality Jones mastered by his fourth year in the program and one that'll key Daniels' ability to take the next step this year.