Jalon Daniels. It’s a name that’s been reverberating among college football fans because he’s an electric phenom on and off the field. Now fans are devastated because the University of Kansas quarterback has suffered a shoulder injury originally reported as season-ending. However, Daniels cast doubt on that status in a recent tweet.
“Kansas QB Jalon Daniels is expected to miss the rest of the season with a Grade 3 separation of his right shoulder, per sources,” sports journalist Zac Boyer tweeted on Tuesday, Oct. 11. “It’s a tough blow for Daniels, who was opening a lot of eyes nationally for his (and the Jayhawks’) start. It’s Jason Bean’s team now.”
To this, Daniels replied, “Sheeesh… That’s News to Me,” along with a thinking emoji implying he’s puzzled.
Now fans are waiting to hear the final word about the Los Angeles native who’s taken the college football world by storm, seemingly without warning. Kansas coach Lance Leipold has described him as “doubtful” against Oklahoma this week.
Fans are sending prayers for a speedy recovery to Daniels, who’s been the driving force that led the Jayhawks to their first 4-0 season since 2009.
He’s won the hearts of fans and peers across the country in the process. Whether using his lightning-quick arm to execute perfect passes or inspiring thousands with his bright smile and charisma, many agree Daniels is special.
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“Some days you’re looking at him like, ‘Jesus dude,’” Leipold said of his QB. “And he’s got that big old grin on his face. And he’s smiling, bouncing around. … That’s what you want. I think sometimes we lose that in college football. Go out there and have some fun. And I think he does.”
Though Daniels may be beloved now, his road to becoming a standout starter hasn’t been easy. According to the Los Angeles Times, despite his natural talent, Daniels was the epitome of an underdog in high school. His faith in God has kept him motivated.
“The road to getting where I am today isn’t easy, and I know it is not going to get easier,” Daniels told the LA Times. “This is just the beginning if I want to make it to the NFL and all that. Because I’ve been the underdog most of my life, I was always overlooked because of stuff I couldn’t really control such as my height, getting with quarterback coaches too late and such. I was late to the party, and I can’t blame anybody but myself for that. But God put me on this path for a reason.”
Daniels also didn’t benefit from lifelong coaching like some of his peers. He started training “late” with quarterback coach Sam Fisher.
“In L.A., the way things work as a quarterback, there are tiers,” Fisher told the LA Times. “If you start getting early love as an eighth or ninth-grader, even if you haven’t put that work in, you usually get put up to the front. Everything trickles down from there. That class, looking back with Bryce [Young] and DJ [Uiagalelei], there was such a narrative between Mater Dei and Bosco, it just sort of took over L.A. for those years.”
Fisher said his first time working with Daniels revealed how gifted he was. He was also amazed Daniels wasn’t more well known.
“He grabs it (the ball) and he throws it about 70 yards and I was like, ‘What in the world is happening right now?’ And he did it again, and the ball just jumped out of his hand naturally,” Fisher recalled. “He had one of those whips like he would fling it, coming out of his hand looking like Aaron Rodgers. He had the biggest arm I’d been around in high school.”
The quarterback coach wasn’t the only one to recognize Daniels’ talent. Brent Dearmon, a senior offensive analyst at Kansas at the time, came across footage of the quarterback and knew he was top-tier.
“I would plug his statistics and all this stuff up against some of the top quarterbacks in the country, and to me he was right there with them,” Dearmon says. “I would take him up the chain, and everybody in the building didn’t like him because they were looking for 6-4 guys, the old-school NFL model, and that’s just not him.”
As providence would have it, Daniels kept developing into a better player and Dearmon was promoted to offensive coordinator at Kansas. His first move was to convince his boss to recruit Daniels.
The result: After struggling through his freshman and sophomore seasons, Daniels has shocked the college football world with his electric performances this year on the field. The junior QB’s name has even been floated as a Heisman contender and he’s been compared to Oklahoma’s Young.
Until his injury, Daniels was living up to some comments he made at the end of Kansas’ season last year.
“I’m glad that we showed a lot of grit and a lot of fight towards the end of this season, but next year I want to come in with a bang. I want to start off exactly how we finished off this season,” Daniels said during a press conference in Nov. 2021
Now he faces more adversity. Though the severity of his shoulder injury is unknown, Daniels is still devout in his faith. He hasn’t seemed to stop believing God has the best plan for him.
“Gods Divine Timing,” Daniels captioned an Instagram post of himself pointing to the sky. He accentuated it with praying hands.
PHOTO: Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels (6) scrambles away from pressure during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Lawrence, Kan. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)