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10 Most Important Returning Jayhawks for 2022: No. 1

Jalon Daniels

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 13 Kansas at Texas Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jalon Daniels

Position: Quarterback

Height: 6-foot

Weight: 215

Hometown: Lawndale, CA

High School: Lawndale High School

247Sports High School ranking: 3-star (2020)

- No. 2305 nationally

- No. 49 Dual Threat QB

- No. 214 in the state of California


Jalon received offers from 9 schools including New Mexico State, Louisiana, Army, and Middle Tennesse State. Originally committed to Middle Tennessee State, when KU Offensive Coordinator Brent Dearmon at the time showed interest and made a late offer and was able to persuade Jalon to flip his commitment to the Jayhawks. Daniels was a two-year starter at Lawndale High School after transferring from Nathaniel Narbonne High School in Harbor City, CA.

Lance Leipold turned to Jalon in the third quarter of the Kansas State game after both Jason Bean and Miles Kendrick were knocked out of the game with injuries. Though he competed well in the game, nothing about the performance indicated what was in the offing the following week in Austin. As you are all well aware, KU behind the leadership of Danials won for the first time ever in Austin, 57-56, and for only the fourth time overall.

Why 1?

What the Jayhawks need from the quarterback position is a person with the talent to execute the game plan developed by the coaching staff, and the leadership to inspire teammates to keep bringing the fight to the opponent. If you watched KU football down the final stretch of last season, you saw the difference in how the team played with Jalon in the game. Not only did he lead the team in the win over the Longhorns, but in the season finale against West Virginia, he kept the team fighting to the end of the game. Though winning the game was unlikely late in the game, Jalon keep his teammates playing hard and he kept the small home crowd cheering for the small chance of victory, something that was not happening early in the season.

As I watch the Jayhawks from the stands last season, you could see the improvement happening from game to game. But there was always a point in each game, maybe in the second quarter, maybe in the third, you could feel the fans in the stands collectively lose their sense of hope and they knew the game was over and the ‘Hawks knew it too. But in the last game, Jalon held his teammates’ attention and kept them fighting, and the fans that stayed into the fourth quarter of that last game never lost that sense of hope and paid the players back by making as much noise as they could as the team drove for a late touchdown.

You might dismiss Jalon’s importance to the team as him just being in the right place when the team as a whole turned a corner, and that is true to some extent, but what I saw after the spring game this year made me believe Jalon had a big hand in the team turning that corner. I waited with other fans in the autograph line after the game, and as most of the players sat behind tables signing autographs and engaging in pleasant chit-chat with the fans, Jalon was holding court. He was out on the fan side of the tables smiling and really engaging with the fans. He has an infectious smile. Just being within 10 feet of the guy made you feel immediately happier. You can see why teammates are drawn to him and want to play harder for him. I do not know if his technical skills are significantly better than Jason Bean’s, but his personality draws people in, and if you can draw people in they will listen to what you want them to do, and it will make them want to do better, and that is what this team needs as much as anything. KU has had quarterbacks that can make a throw or check out of a play destined to fail. KU has that player in both Jalon Daniels and Jason Bean, but KU desperately needs a player that inspires his teammates to do better. Jalon seemed to bring that to the table last season. If he continues to lead his teammates to play better this season, the Jayhawks will surprise many college football fans, they may not become bowl eligible, but they will easily surpass the season win total line(2.5), without that leadership, it will be a struggle to surpass it.

The List:

#2: Kenny Logan, Jr.

#3: Mike Novitsky

#4: Rich Miller

#5: Earl Bostick, Jr.

#6: Devin Neal

#7: Jason Bean

#8: Malcolm Lee

#9: Caleb Sampson

#10: Lawrence Arnold