Jayden Daniels has Proven Why Brian Kelly Wanted Him at LSU
This past weekend’s win against Alabama has LSU in true contention to win the SEC this year. No one would have thought this would have been the case a year ago, or even a couple of weeks ago. However, Brian Kelly has a real shot of making some noise this year in his first year in Baton Rouge. LSU’s success this year can be attributed to Kelly’s decision to bring in transfer quarterback Jayden Daniels in the offseason.
After beating Alabama, LSU has a record of 7-2 going into this week. Daniels has been a big part of that success, through the air and on the ground. Through nine weeks, Daniels has compiled 1,994 passing yards and 14 passing touchdowns with only one interception through the air. On the ground, he has 619 rushing yards, adding another 10 rushing touchdowns. With LSU now leading the way in the SEC West, Daniels could potentially receive some Heisman runner-up votes. Looking at some of the other transfer quarterbacks that could have been an option for LSU this season, Daniels was one of the best options at the time.
When Alabama appears on the schedule, it’s a game always circled. Who doesn’t want to beat the greatness of Nick Saban? In LSU’s win, the defense stepped up and made Bryce Young feel uncomfortable all game. Freshman Harold Perkins had himself a game, as well as first-year defensive coordinator Matt House. However, Jayden Daniels balled out. Whether it was through the air or extending plays with his feet, he was a big part in the overtime victory against the Crimson Tide. When Daniels scored on the first Tiger play in overtime, Brian Kelly had no option but to go for the win with Death Valley rocking. So let’s rewind and see how Jayden Daniels got into this situation.
During the offseason, LSU hired Brian Kelly away from Notre Dame. After 11 years in South Bend, he took on the challenge of the SEC and moved to Baton Rouge. During his first offseason at LSU, Kelly had to figure out who was going to start for the Tigers come the fall. Outside of Joe Burrow, LSU has struggled to find a great quarterback in recent memory. Whether it was Danny Etling, TJ Finley, Brandon Harris, or Anthony Jennings. So with LSU’s quarterback room unfolding in the offseason, there was a major concern. Especially when last year’s starting quarterback Max Johnson entered the transfer portal, and later committed to Texas A&M.
So with Johnson leaving, LSU had a quarterback room of incoming four-star freshman Walker Howard, redshirt freshman Garrett Nussmeier, and also brought back Myles Brennan, who was Joe Burrow’s replacement, who missed all of last year. Brian Kelly searched the transfer portal and ended up finding the guy he was looking for. Former four-star Arizona State quarterback, Jayden Daniels.
Jayden Daniels was one of the best quarterbacks in the 2019 recruiting class. Daniels started right away for Arizona State and led the Sun Devils to two 8-5 seasons, excluding the 2020 Covid year. After throwing for 5,323 passing yards, and 1,065 rushing yards in those years, Daniels decided to move on from the mess Arizona State had become and landed at LSU this past March.
Daniels was known to be an electric type of quarterback due to his ability to extend plays with his feet and the arm talent to be able to push the ball upfield. The former Arizona State quarterback has been criticized before for the lack of accuracy he possessed at times during his first three seasons. However, so far this season, Daniels has been what Brian Kelly and LSU expected him to be and more.
After their Week 1 loss to Florida State, most people wrote off LSU in Brian Kelly’s first year. However, with Jayden Daniels’ excellent play, LSU has turned its season around. With all the players coming and going for LSU this offseason, there were questions about how good they were going to be this year. However, one of Brian Kelly’s biggest wins has to be Daniels. LSU is happy that Daniels landed in Baton Rouge, but Daniels himself should be happy with the situation as well. So far, he has been an amazing fit at LSU and could even come back next season for the Tigers.