Notre Dame's McDaniel helps healing process back home

930721.png

Notre Dame's McDaniel helps healing process back home

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Cam McDaniel could have kept his game ball, the one he earned in Notre Dame's biggest win in a decade. He could have kept it, and looked at it as a testament to the hard work he's had to do in the face of a difficult position change and loaded depth chart.
That game ball didn't make the trip back north with McDaniel.
After receiving it, he wrote the date and score of Notre Dame's win over Oklahoma on the ball and signed it with a dedication to the family of Jacob Logan.
Logan was a sophomore when McDaniel was a senior at Coppell High School outside of Dallas. Two years later, Logan -- a wide receiver -- starred for an outstanding Coppell squad alongside McDaniel's brother, Gavin, a running back.
On a warm mid-October day, Logan, McDaniel and a few teammates went to a lake house about 80 miles outside Forth Worth. Cliff diving was a pretty standard activity at the lake, and Gavin McDaniel and Logan jumped in.
McDaniel went first, and Logan leapt in right after him.
"My brother came up, and he didnt," Cam McDaniel said.
It took five days before dive and search teams found Logan's body. He was 17.
"Its been a very, very hurtful, grieving time for this community, especially the athletics family," Coppell coach Joe McBride said. "Jacob was a lot like Cam, he was such a great kid, great leader and great player. And when you lose a guy out of the community, unexpectedly like that, the backlash was just so painful."
Football, though, has played an important role in the healing process. In Coppell's first game after Logan's death, Gavin McDaniel broke off a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play of the game, celebrating in the end zone by signing "21" with his hands. That was Logan's number.
And that was Cam McDaniel's number on Saturday in Oklahoma.
McDaniel normally wears No. 33, but went to coach Brian Kelly and asked if he could wear No. 21 to honor his former teammate. Kelly gave him his blessing, but McDaniel still had to talk to the guy with 21 as his number to go through with it.
Jalen Brown was going to have plenty of family make the three-hour drive from the Dallas area to Norman for Notre Dame-Oklahoma, so switching numbers could have been a headache.
"I knew that was going to be even a tough position for him to be in," McDaniel said. "But he was just awesome about it. He was a great friend and understood the situation and was more than happy to switch jerseys for that week. Big shout-out to Jalen there."
McDaniel called McBride in the middle of last week. The former Coppell star and current Coppell coach talked about McDaniel's possibly-increased role against OU -- McDaniel knew he was going to play cornerback and explained how he would be returning kicks if George Atkinson wasn't feeling better. Then, McDaniel informed his coach about the number switch.
"I told him to tell coach Kelly we appreciate him allowing him to do that," McBride said. "It meant a lot to a lot of people here."
So when McDaniel took the field for Notre Dame's biggest game of the year, he was honoring Jacob Logan. He returned four kicks for 77 yards and recorded a tackle while working as a cornerback, helping give Notre Dame's offense field position and hold OU's offense to just 13 points.
McDaniel's had some impressive games at his natural position of running back -- he carried 11 times for 55 yards and a touchdown against Miami, and nine times for 60 yards and a touchdown against Navy -- but those largely came well after Notre Dame's first-stringers put the Irish by a wide margin. So McDaniel's performance against Oklahoma had a lot more riding on it for Notre Dame.
But it also had plenty riding on it for the community of Coppell.
"He just gave a little bit more healing, he gave a little bit more, for lack of a better word, he just continued a bit of the healing process just getting his teammate to be continued to be honored down the road," McBride said. "Every time we can do something to keep him in our forethoughts and memory and still make him a part of our lives, it makes everybody really excited."
But McDaniel didn't honor Logan with just his jersey.
McDaniel left the game ball with his brother, Gavin. And Gavin delivered it to the Logan family. McDaniel gave up a prized possession to help the healing of a grieving family over the loss of their son, and his friend.
"It was a powerful thing," McBride said.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Jose Quintana trade rumors and SoxFest preview

White Sox Talk Podcast: Jose Quintana trade rumors and SoxFest preview

When will a possible Jose Quintana trade go from a watch to a warning?

Chuck Garfien, Dan Hayes, Ryan McGuffey and Chris Kamka break down the Quintana trade talks and what it will be like for him this weekend at SoxFest after months of trade rumors.

The guys also discuss what the White Sox roster might look like on Opening Day, and Hayes reveals his 2016 Hall of Fame ballot.

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

Plus listen for a special White Sox Talk Podcast giveaway: two free passes to SoxFest and the chance to play bags with Garfien and Todd Frazier at SoxFest.

Check out the latest episode below:

For Tom Rees, coaching gig at Notre Dame always seemed like an inevitability

For Tom Rees, coaching gig at Notre Dame always seemed like an inevitability

The last time Tom Rees played a game for Notre Dame, he was still known as Tommy Rees — but his coach put forth an offer that didn't come as a surprise to anyone in the press room at Yankee Stadium. 

"I'm a Tommy Rees fan for life," Kelly said after Notre Dame's 2013 Pinstripe Bowl win over Rutgers. "… He'll keep trying to play the game as long as he can. But I told him, he's got a bright future as a graduate assistant for Brian Kelly anytime."

Rees is joining Notre Dame as a full-time quarterbacks coach, not just as a coach-in-training graduate assistant role. The 24-year-old — whose father, Bill, has held a number of scouting roles in the NFL — only has two coaching stops on his resume, a graduate assistant role at Northwestern in 2015 and an offensive assistant job with the San Diego Chargers last year. But his lack of experience is more than made up for by the simple fact that, while at Notre Dame from 2010-2013, there was a well-established belief held by coaches and teammates that one day the Lake Bluff, Ill. native one day would coach in some capacity. 

"I'm very excited to have Tom join our staff," Kelly said in a statement Tuesday. "He possesses an understanding of the game, and most importantly the quarterback position, that's unique. He's a true student of the game and great communicator that will offer immediate dividends toward guiding our quarterback room.

"As a former quarterback at Notre Dame, Tom also has a rare ability to truly relate with the quarterbacks on our roster. He's literally sat in their seat, dealt with the ups and downs, faced the criticism, deflected the praise, and all that comes with playing the position at Notre Dame. He can genuinely mentor them — not only on the football field, but in the classroom and the community as well."

Rees effectively became a player/coach in 2012, when a July arrest for resisting law enforcement and illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor led to a one-game suspension that knocked him out of what was a four-person competition to be the team's starting quarterback. Everett Golson ultimately emerged from that fray, but Rees was a fixture as both a mentor to and a replacement for the redshirt freshman as the Irish rolled to the BCS Championship with an undefeated regular season record. 

Consider what Rees said about his relationship with Golson prior to the 2013 BCS Championship:

"There'd be a couple late night discussions," Rees said. "He'd ask me what I thought he needed to improve on, you know, don't hold anything back. And I told him the truth sometimes -- I told him the truth all the time, sometimes it wasn't what he wanted to hear. But any way I could help, and I've had a lot of fun working with him."

Rees' playing time that year was important, yet sporadic. So during the week and from the sidelines, he took more of a coach's point of view with the Irish offense, which teammates said was beneficial when he took over the starting job again in 2013 follow Golson's academic suspension. 

"Not being a stating quarterback, it's sort of pushed him to become more of a leader and more of a coach," former offensive lineman Chris Watt said before the 2013 season. "I think that helped him see the game a little bit differently than before." 

Rees will be primarily tasked with grooming redshirt sophomore Brandon Wimbush, a guy who some around the program thought was the most talented quarterback on Notre Dame's roster the last few years. Of course, Wimbush's offensive knowledge wasn't near the level possessed by Malik Zaire or DeShone Kizer, but his throwing and running ability are both mouth-watering traits that Rees will have a chance to mold.

That Rees is getting his coaching start in his mid-20's isn't particularly surprising. In many ways, has always been on track for this role, and maybe more (think offensive coordinator).

"When I finished my playing career and graduated from Notre Dame, I wanted to do two things," Rees said Tuesday. "First, I wanted to coach, and second, at some point in my career I hoped to get an opportunity to return and do it at my alma mater. I didn't know when or if this opportunity might present itself, but I'm so grateful and honored that it did. I'm ready to get things rolling with this great staff and group of student-athletes."