McDaniel at home back in Arlington

<b> Bob Wieneke</b>


Straight-faced and sounding as honest as AT&T Stadium is big (and it’s really big), Notre Dame junior running back Cam McDaniel offered an atypical answer when asked what first jumps out upon entering the home of the Dallas Cowboys.

“I think really just the Dallas star logo, you know,” McDaniel said earlier this week in advance of Notre Dame’s Shamrock Series game against Arizona State, before taking on a more serious tone. “No, no, not at all. You notice the screen every time.”

The mid-field star was replaced Saturday night with a Shamrock Series logo, but it would have played second fiddle anyway. The video screen, the size of a basketball court, was as colossal as it was clear.

And it’s well-known by McDaniel, a Dallas-area product who played in the stadium a number of times while in high school.

McDaniel is one of seven Irish scholarship players from the Lone Star State, and one of four to have made the travel squad for Saturday night’s game against Arizona State. In addition to McDaniel, the other Texans listed on the Irish travel roster were cornerback Jalen Brown, wide receiver Corey Robinson and injured safety Nicky Baratti.

While McDaniel grew up a relative stone’s throw away — Coppell is about a 30-minute drive from AT&T Stadium — Robinson, who grew up in San Antonio, was also home, sort of. San Antonio is about four hours from Dallas.

“It’s going to be great to be back in the Lone Star State,” Robinson said Wednesday after practice.

Saturday night’s game, a home game for the Irish in terms of TV and gate revenues, turned into one of ND’s biggest recruiting weekends of the season in terms of players watching them in person. Earlier in the week, it was estimated that upward of 60 prospects would be watching live.

Four years ago, Notre Dame played its first Shamrock Series game in San Antonio. McDaniel was invited to that game but could not make it. Still, he saw the validity of taking the show on the road.

“It’s kind of tough to travel all the way to Indiana sometimes, and really recruiting guys — and I’m not a recruiter so it’s hard for me to know — but I would imagine that recruiting guys in Texas, and recruiting guys from the west coast, it may be sometimes hard to kind of lure them up here into the Midwest region, so you’ve got to use program prestige and school and all those other things to really show them that it’s worth the trek and it’s worth that transition to the cold weather for a little while,” McDaniel said.

As big as the game was for the Irish, who risked falling out of the BCS conversation with a loss, the size of the venue was also a big part of Saturday night’s conversation.

“It’s just one of those places you’ve got to go and experience,” McDaniel said, “to really understand the magnitude of it.”

Notre Dame's Cam McDaniel picks up yards on a run during the Shamrock Series game between Notre Dame and Arizona State on Saturday, October 5, 2013, at AT&amp;T Stadium in Arlington, Tex. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN