Jalon Daniels Has Brought The Jayhawks To Prominence
Kansas Jayhawks athletics are renowned for their world-class basketball program which has produced six national championships, the most recent coming in 2022 following a 72-69 victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels.
It’s a much different story for the football team. The Jayhawks have struggled with consistency in the 21st century, and they don’t have a rich winning history compared to other elite programs such as Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Michigan, and USC.
The school boasts an all-time winning history below .500. The Jayhawks football team last won a conference title in 1968. The school also has one BCS Bowl Game victory — the 2008 Orange Bowl against the Virginia Tech Hokies.
But things have changed mightily under quarterback Jalon Daniels and second-year head coach Lance Leipold. Even after a tough 52-42 road loss to the Oklahoma Sooners in Week 7, the Jayhawks find themselves a surprising 5-2 through seven games.
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BetMGM is also running a promo where you can win $200 if you place a $10 NFL wager and any NFL team scores a touchdown in any game.
Jalon Daniels: The Early College Days
Daniels went to Lawndale High School, which is located in Lawndale, California. It’s the same high school as former NFL All-Pro defensive end Fred Dryer, who attended San Diego State.
The Jayhawks would use two different starting quarterbacks for Daniels’ freshman 2020 season. Daniels and Miles Kendrick, now playing for New Mexico, each appeared in seven games that year.
Though Daniels finished with more passing yards than Kendrick (718 to 647), the latter had a much better completion percentage (60.8 to Daniels’ 50.0) and six touchdowns against five picks. Daniels struggled with one touchdown against four interceptions.
In the midst of the 2021 season, Daniels took over as the starting QB after Jason Bean suffered an injury. Daniels showed much better poise and control with the football, finishing the year with a 69.2 completion percentage and 860 passing yards with seven touchdowns against three interceptions. Kendrick would transfer to New Mexico and win the starting quarterback job there, while Daniels managed to beat out Bean for the QB1 role in 2022.
2022: Daniels’ Breakout Year
The 6-foot-tall, 215-pound Daniels was a driving force behind the Jayhawks’ surprising 5-0 start. And it all started with a 56-10 blowout win over Tennessee Tech in Week 1.
The Jayhawks were mostly able to lean on their stingy defense and a prolific rushing attack that racked up 297 yards and six touchdowns on just 30 carries. Daniels did his part by completing all but three of 18 pass attempts for 189 yards, a touchdown, and one interception. He added 29 yards on the ground and recorded a single rushing touchdown.
Proving Week 1 was no fluke, Daniels led the Jayhawks to a convincing 55-42 victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers in Week 2. That day, Daniels completed 18 passes for 219 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. He also led Kansas in rushing with 85 yards on 12 carries.
Daniels’ career year was unfortunately put on pause when he suffered a right shoulder injury against the TCU Horned Frogs in Week 6. The Jayhawks suffered a 38-31 loss that day, their first of the season.
On Oct. 11, Daniels took to Twitter and denied a report that he would be out for the season. He was inactive for the team’s aforementioned 52-42 loss to Oklahoma, where Bean played admirably well with 265 passing yards and four touchdowns against two picks.
Through six game appearances, Daniels has a 66.7 completion percentage for 1,072 yards, 11 touchdowns, one interception and 335 rushing yards, and six rushing touchdowns.
It’s unclear if Daniels will return this season, and Jayhawks fans can only hold their breath. Whatever the outcome is, Daniels has pieced together one of the greatest seasons in Jayhawks football history, and NFL scouts will surely pay close attention to him.
Daniels had to wait patiently, but he ultimately made the most of his opportunity in 2022. Here’s hoping we’ll see him get the chance to finish what he started.