Jalon Daniels can be college football’s most amazing player

  • Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Senior WriterJul 9, 2024, 07:40 AM ET Close College football press reporter. Signed up with ESPN.com in 2008.
  • Graduate of Northwestern University.LAWRENCE, Kan.– The objective for Jalon Daniels is

    basic and within sight.Daniels simply wants to play college football for Kansas, uninterrupted, from the start of the season up until the finish. That’s it. Any addendums can originate from others. The pronouncements and honors around him undoubtedly will appear, just as they did last summertime. Daniels’sparkle when he’s on the field, after all, is both indisputable and enthralling.But he knows the only achievements that matter come from actually playing the games. No one remembers the Huge 12 preseason offensive player of the year, which Daniels remained in 2023, if he plays in only one Big 12 game because of a back injury. Even the buzz around Daniels throughout the very first half of the 2022 season, when KU began 5-0, faded after he missed a month since of a shoulder injury, only to return and provide a staggering performance versus Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl– 544 passing backyards and 5 touchdowns. He still earned second-team All-Big 12 honors that fall.Editor’s Picks 2 Associated When Daniels plays, he’s an absolute must-see, especially entering a college football season lacking some sizzle at quarterback with Heisman Prize winners Caleb Williams and Jayden

    Daniels off to the NFL. In 12 games over the previous two seasons, Daniels has 2,729 pass lawns and 23 touchdowns, balancing 13.1 yards per conclusion. But he has also gone 291 days since his last game, and has balanced only 6.25 games per season in four years with Kansas.There’s a hold-your-breath feeling around among college football’s most breathtaking players. If Daniels can simply get to Aug. 29, when Kansas opens its season versus Lindenwood, the possibilities for both him and his group are tantalizing. National honors are

    on the table. So are a Big 12 title and a College Football Playoff area, unfathomable when Daniels concerned Kansas in 2020. The return is within reach, and Daniels ‘healing has been smooth. But the next phase features no assurances, as anyone who has actually gone through a back injury– elite athlete or not– can confirm.”I do not ask God to allow me to be able to play to the best of my abilities,”Daniels said.” Each time I hope

    , I just ask to allow me to play every game this season. That’s been my No. 1 goal, specifically since I’ve been injured, the one thing that I enjoy to do.” I didn’t concern college not to play college

    football.”NINETY MINUTES BEFORE kickoff versus Texas in late September, Jayhawks coach Lance Leipold examined at Daniels and recognized something wasn’t right. Daniels had actually appeared in the previous three games and carried out well, displaying accuracy (74.7 %completions)while assaulting downfield and showing good movement. He had

    practiced well throughout the week before the Texas game, and had actually not communicated any issues at the team hotel.But Daniels’back flared up in warmups in Austin, causing an acute pain. He went to the training space and then the locker space, where Leipold saw the quarterback”in tears.”The regression included another layer of mystery to an injury that didn’t make much sense in the very first location. “The craziest part for me is I’ve never ever had any issues with my back per se,

    “Daniels stated.” It was kind of new to me.” Unlike a broken bone or a torn ligament, which normally have clear treatment plans and recovery timelines, Daniels’injury inhabited a gray area. Leipold at first told regional reporters that Daniels had back tightness, which limited him in camp.

    Daniels practiced sometimes and was announced as the starter for the season opener versus Missouri State, but he didn’t play after warming up.After sitting out against Texas, he was labeled day-to-day however did not appear on the sideline for the team’s next game versus UCF. He saw in street clothing as Kansas faced Oklahoma State, and Leipold expressed hope that the quarterback might return the next week against Oklahoma. Daniels heated up in uniform for the Sooners game however once again did not play.Start. Stop. Start. Stop. Unpredictability followed Daniels for more than two months.< img height="320 "width=

    “570” src=”https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/40488890/”/ > Back injuries can be unpredictable and Jalon Daniels is working to build his body up to take hits. Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire”If you do something that people can see, the outside people comprehend it,”quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski said.”When they can’t see it, they don’t get it. You can’t see a cast or a sling. That’s the hardest part.”Leipold made it clear Daniels would take the first snaps when ready, but the weeks went by without any return.”I do not know if I’ve done an F task or a B-minus job in trying to safeguard the best interest of Jalon Daniels and what needs to be shared and what’s not,”Leipold informed ESPN in

    April.” People think they need to understand whether he’s practiced today or he hasn’t. I have actually attempted to make it the very best for Jalon and for our football group on where he’s going with that.”The haziness around the injury and the status updates fueled speculation that Daniels didn’t want to return. He might maintain a year of eligibility, become one of the leading quarterbacks on the transfer market and money in at a higher-profile program.” There weren’t a lot of answers at the time or public outlook, so he’s getting a lot of hatred, “stated running back Devin Neal, one of Daniels’closest friends.”It was truly assaulting him from numerous various angles. That was the tough part about it. He wasn’t able to really state,’OK, I

    ‘ll be back now.’It was a wait-and-see type deal: ‘How am I feeling today?'” Neal, who knew the fact about Daniels’ injury, was upset by what his pal withstood. Other veterans, such as cornerback Cobee Bryant, checked in with Daniels nightly.”It was tough to see him go through that, “strength and conditioning coach Matt Gildersleeve said.”You’re seeing all the bulls– on social media and you’re just like,’If you understood this kid and what he would do to be out there playing today, you would never ever question his will and his desire. ‘”After missing out on 6 straight games, Daniels posted a video on social media, verifying he

    would return to Kansas in 2024. He mentioned the speculation about his intent, saying, “You want something to speak about? Discuss this: I’m not done yet, and I’m not going anywhere.”His season was over. His return was just beginning.KANSAS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR Jeff Grimes doesn’t require a tutorial on back problems.”I have actually got four jacked-up disks right now, got two injections and attempting to avoid a surgery, “stated Grimes, 55, a previous offending lineman at UTEP.”

    When your back injures, it just impacts everything you do …” Daniels has actually sought advice from numerous back professionals. Leipold told Daniels ‘parents that if they weren’t delighted with the care, the school would”inspect another corner of the country”to discover more alternatives. A steady interaction flow exists in between Daniels’doctors, Kansas’ physicians, the athletic training staff and Gildersleeve, who leads Daniels’rehab and worked with him individually for the first six weeks of

    the offseason.Gildersleeve has focused on preserving Daniels’confidence throughout the process, acknowledging that soreness and problems would happen along the way. Back injuries present a different psychological obstacle than more typical disorders.”

    The method this occurred, it’s simply, absolutely nothing truly took place, and then all of a sudden, your season’s over,”Gilversleeve said.”That’s frightening to think of. It ‘d be something if you got in a car mishap. You’re like,’Something possible took place, I simply need to not get in an automobile accident.’ “You have a great deal of confidence. However when something out of the blue occurs, it’s hard.”They also have actually worked on developing core strength, a centerpiece for all professional athletes, but especially quarterbacks. In hindsight, Gildersleeve would have had the 6-foot, 220-pound Daniels do more core work before the injury, due to the fact that he tosses the ball with so much velocity and torque.The key this summertime is to gradually increase Daniels’volume of

    tosses. The plan consists of no”intense spikes “in workload, Gildersleeve stated, to minimize the risk of reinjury.Those around Daniels don’t anticipate he will have any physical restrictions if he’s cleared to play. The mental obstacle, meanwhile, will remain up until Daniels returns to the game field

    — and stays there. “Everything else,”he said,”

    will manage itself.”WHEN DANIELS TURNED 8, he had his very first big at-home birthday celebration, a Packers-themed celebration orchestrated by his mother, Star. Jalon had actually started playing youth football for the South Bay Packers in Hawthorne, California. The team had the very same logo design and colors as the

    professional version from Green Bay, which naturally ended up being Jalon’s favorite pro group.”My jumper was Packers theme, my cake was Packers style, we had some side cakes that appeared like [Nintendo] Wii remotes, “Jalon said.”She simply did as much as she might to be able to attend to me, and that’s what I love about her.”Despite maturing near Los Angeles, among the most saturated locations for quarterbacks and QB advancement,

    Daniels was an outsider to the scene. He didn’t start working with a quarterbacks coach till the playoffs of his junior year at Lawndale High School. Daniels had actually depended on natural playmaking impulses in grade school and even early on at Lawndale, where he was “humbled” as a freshman by all that quarterbacks had to do.He absorbed as much as he could on his own while depending on Lawndale’s coaches, who gave him some specific attention while likewise keeping an eye on the school’s other college potential customers. Daniels revealed substantial enhancement as a sophomore and into his junior year, but he had no recruiting rating and was behind in the college choice procedure. play 0:17 Jalon Daniels links for 15-yard TD pass Jalon Daniels links for 15-yard TD pass” I never ever recognized that their process started so early,”he stated. “I may have only taken three informal check outs, to Cal Poly, to Memphis for a camp and one to Middle Tennessee after they provided me. My people didn’t really understand the whole recruiting path or how to

    go Division I, how to be able to establish your child. Truthfully, my family and I found out on the fly.”Daniels didn’t understand much about Kansas, other than selecting the Jayhawks ‘all-time roster in the NBA 2K game. However he flipped from Middle Tennessee to Kansas on signing day in 2019, and began six games as a true freshman in 2020, leading the winless Jayhawks in hurrying attempts(73)and rushing goals(3). Jalon has long thought about playing in the NFL, not only for himself however since of what it would indicate for his

    mom.Star raised Jalon on her own till weding Tyrone

    Dubois-Daniels in 2015. She worked different jobs, primarily in insurance coverage claims. But Star’s dream, as she showed with Jalon’s party, is event preparation. She already has actually prepared a household cruise in 2026. Numerous years earlier, she began a celebration planning business, but still works her main gig with an insurer.”She hasn’t had all the time that she want to be able to put all her all into it

    ,”Jalon stated.” I’m definitely going to attempt and line that up for her. My stepdad is in IT and he began his own IT organization. Being able to help them enter those paths, and be able to do what they want to do, it suggests the world to me since going to the NFL is something I want to do. “I want to be able to state: I play football for my task.” EVERYBODY AROUND KU

    is pulling for Daniels since of what he has actually gone through, since of his worth in the program’s rise and because of what a full season might indicate for his future.Other quarterbacks with injury histories have helped their NFL outlooks with undisturbed, productive seasons. Michael Penix Jr., the 2023 Heisman Trophy runner-up picked No. 8 total in the NFL draft by Atlanta, is the most current example. Daniels respects Penix’s journey but looks at his own as distinct. A totally healthy Daniels can be the most vibrant QB in the Huge 12. Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports “It’s sort of hard to be assessed on playing football when you’re unable to be out there doing it,”he said.”I’m still standing here at the University of Kansas, attempting to go far for myself. As much as people wish to state

    I have these awards, this much media buzz and this and that,

    I personally do not feel like I have actually done anything yet. I’m still attempting to make my method.”Daniels reported no setbacks during the spring. He made some throws in practice that Gildersleeve had actually never ever seen before.

    He delighted in taking some snaps from under center, which he hadn’t done because high school. He and Zebrowksi dealt with decision-making and the need to not always make the miraculous play when the right one could be simply getting to the next down. He continued to coach Kansas ‘other quarterbacks, who will need to action in, just asJason Bean did the past few years, if something fails again.The next action is to get through the preseason with no flare-ups, while continuing to build self-confidence, all the method to, and eventually through, the season opener.”I anticipate him to be out there, I anticipate him to play, “Leipold stated.” Does that mean he’s going to play all 12? My strategy is that he does.”Daniels has the very same strategy and will not be deterred by the past.”It’s just conquering difficulty,”he stated. “I’ve been a football player my whole entire life. You never really understand what’s ahead, so I’m trying to remain where my feet are. I want to complete what I began. “

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