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Notre Dame’s McDaniel pays tribute to fallen friend

(MCT) — SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Mid-October Sundays in Texas are warm and inviting enough to inspire trips to Possum Kingdom Lake, and that’s where high school football stars Jacob Logan and Gavin McDaniel climbed a cliff on Oct. 14 with the water glistening below.

McDaniel jumped first. Logan followed.

“My brother came up,” Notre Dame running back/cornerback Cam McDaniel said Wednesday, “and he didn’t.”

Dive teams searched for five days before recovering 17-year-old Jacob Logan’s body in the lake, and it was a little more than a week later that Cam McDaniel offered a tribute for millions to see: He switched to Logan’s jersey No. 21 from his usual No. 33 for the game at Oklahoma, then promptly energized the Irish’s kickoff return unit with tough, elusive runs.

“An extreme honor beyond what words can explain,” McDaniel said. “It was an honor to be able to pay tribute to him by wearing the No. 21 for that game. A lot of my family was in town, a lot of my friends were at that game, even some of my coaches. And a lot of people were watching, that’s for sure.”

Logan was a sophomore when Cam McDaniel was a senior at Coppell (Texas) High School. Gavin McDaniel made his own tribute one night after his drowned friend’s body was recovered: He ran for a 75-yard touchdown on his first carry against Flower Mound High School, flashing a “21” sign after he reached the end zone.

“It’s extremely humbling, it’s eye-opening, it just reminds us that life is but a vapor,” Cam McDaniel said. “I’m sorry that he had to go. But he honored many people with his life.”

Out of harm’s way: Carlo Calabrese’s hometown of Verona, N.J., got hit with wind and rain and some trees in the neighborhood toppled. That was about it, but the Irish linebacker rued the catastrophic damage Hurricane Sandy inflicted upon coastal areas.

“It’s crazy,” Calabrese said. “Just seeing the buildings that are wrecked like (Ortley Beach’s) Surf Club, seeing all that stuff totally wrecked — it’s crazy. I’m just praying for those people to rebuild it.”

Home remedy? Notre Dame has committed 27 of its 42 penalties and seven of eight turnovers at home.

“I don’t want to make more of it,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “Teams that come into Notre Dame Stadium play their very, very best. We have to match that intensity.”

They will get a chance to do just that Saturday when Pittsburgh visits.

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