One constant has existed in an otherwise uncertain, jumbled offensive backfield at Notre Dame during the 2013 season.
Junior running back Cam McDaniel, an under-recruited prospect out of Coppell, Tex., has been the most consistent presence at his position, which has seen a committee approach through the majority of the current season.
Head coach Brian Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin have mixed and matched McDaniel, George Atkinson III, Amir Carlisle and Tarean Folston thus far, though, none among that quartet emerged above the rest during the Irish's first five games.
But McDaniel, a 5'10", 207-pounder, had a statement performance during Notre Dame's 37-34 victory against Arizona State in Dallas, leading the Irish in rushing with 82 yards on 15 carries.
And that outing wasn't just a flash in the pan either.
McDaniel has been the Irish's leading rusher in three of Notre Dame's past four games, perhaps earning the label of No. 1 running back.
But that's where things become jumbled due to the emergence of Folston, a heralded freshman hailing from Cocoa, Fla.
The 5'10", 207-pounder had his coming out party against Navy last week, racking up 140 yards on 18 carries to go along with one touchdown. And that performance created a good problem for the Irish, which has manifested itself in the form of just exactly how to use McDaniel along with Folston.
A vast amount of opinions surrounding the situation exist, with some calling for Folston to have an expanded role, while others desire an equal distribution of carries amongst both Folston and McDaniel.
In terms of McDaniel as an individual player, he's best utilized in the latter option, being a miniature battering ram opposite Folston. While both players have excellent vision and allow the play to develop before hitting the hole, McDaniel is more of a north-and-south runner who lacks fear of lowering his pad level in the trenches.
Thus, McDaniel may be a better option in short yardage situations, though it's not as if he's an extreme upgrade over Folston in those situations.
Yet regardless of when McDaniel is inserted into the game, the one thing he provides time and time again is consistency. To Kelly, consistency includes protecting the football, making the proper reads and executing each play on a down-by-down basis.
Concisely, Kelly trusts McDaniel to provide the results he and his staff desire.
And better than that, McDaniel provides some rather interesting in-game photographs.
A multi-dimensional player, indeed.
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