A former Syracuse prospect is continuing to make waves with Kansas. Jalon Daniels was named preseason Big 12 offensive player of the year as he prepares for his fourth season as the Jayhawks’ quarterback.
Daniels was not heavily recruited out of Lawndale, California in the class of 2020. He was a three star prospect and 247Sports’ 61st rated dual threat quarterback. He had just two power five offers, one from Kansas and the other from Syracuse. He was originally committed to Middle Tennessee State before flipping to Kansas.
It’s a big “what if” for Syracuse. Daniels was electrifying last year, throwing for 2,014 yards, 18 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He also rushed for 419 yards in just 9 contests. His biggest game came in the Liberty Bowl against Arkansas when he threw 544 yards and five touchdowns in a game the Jayhawks lost 55-53 in overtime.
Daniels engineered a comeback season for Kansas. It was the first time the Jayhawks went to a bowl game since 2008, and were ranked for the first time since 2009. They were 2-10 in Lance Leipold’s first season as head coach in 2021, but jumped to a 6-6 regular season with a bowl loss last year, thanks largely to Daniels’ development into one of the most electrifying players in college football. He was 5-3 as a starter in the regular season, and missed a month with a shoulder injury before returning for the final three games.
He’s not short on confidence either. At Big 12 Media Days, when he was announced as the conference’s preseason offensive player of the year, Daniels wore a necklace with a mini screen hanging from it that played his highlights. He left quite the impression on those present, and on social media.
It’s fair for Syracuse fans to wonder what this program would look like with Daniels under center. Garrett Shrader certainly showed flashes last year and there’s hope that he can be in the top half of quarterbacks in the ACC this Fall, but Daniels is a different level of player. Before he got hurt, there were Heisman discussions surrounding him, something SU hasn’t had at quarterback since Donovan McNabb over 20 years ago.
You never know with recruiting. Daniels went from a three star with two power five offers to one of the best quarterbacks in the country. There’s always “what ifs’ and regrets with high school players, and Daniels is certainly one for Syracuse.