Cam McDaniel, who played for the Irish from 2011 to 2014 worked his way up from lightly regarded 3-star recruit to a reliable three yards and a cloud of dust runner, the team’s leading rusher, a team Captain and an internet sensation when a photo snapped of him in action at exactly the right time, went viral.
A member of Brian Kelly’s first recruiting class, McDaniel was recruited out of Coppell, Texas in 2010. In his senior season at Coppell High School, McDaniel rushed for over 1900 yards, had 492 yards receiving and totaled 37 touchdowns.
He worked his way on to special teams as a freshman in 2011 and then broke into the depth chart in 2012. Against Miami that year in the Shamrock Series game in Soldier Field he carried the ball on 9 straight plays, an all-time school record. During that sequence as the Irish were salting away a win with a big 4th quarter lead he accounted for 75 yards and the touchdown on a 93-yard drive.
As a Junior he led the Irish in rushing with 705 yards and played in all 13 games. It was during this season that a photo was snapped of him carrying the football in a win against USC just moments after his helmet had been knocked off. In the photo, McDaniel seemingly is staring into the camera with a calm look and nonchalant smile on his face framed with slightly tousled hair. Meanwhile, typical football field mayhem was all around him.
The photo with the caption, “Ridiculously Photogenic Football Player” became an internet meme sensation. McDaniel quickly was in demand from media organizations all over, and eventually was a featured guest on the Today Show.
In his Senior year McDaniel was elected as team Captain. With the emergence of Tarean Folston, Greg Bryant, and quarterback Everett Golson as a runner McDaniel’s opportunities shrunk. But he still managed 278 yards on the ground, and 4 touchdowns for the season.
After college, McDaniel had a 2-year career in the Canadian Football league. In 2017 he was a member of the Toronto Argonauts team that won the Gray Cup league championship.
Cam McDaniel showed dogged determination on the football field, served his teammates as a Captain, and the sensation created by that photograph guarantees that he will always be remembered beyond his accomplishments on the gridiron.
Cam McDaniel, another Fighting Irish Preview, All-Time Irish Hero.