Winter 2022 magazine

Kansas QB Jalon Daniels embracing God's plan as his football fame rises

The banner image on Jalon Daniels’ Twitter account is a fitting one. It’s a graphic of a text message from God that says, “I heard you. Just be patient.”

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Daniels was an unheralded quarterback prospect coming out of the Los Angeles area at the same time as Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei. He committed to Kansas — the only Power Five school to offer him a scholarship — and won a total of two games in his first two seasons.

On Saturday, he will lead the 5-0 Jayhawks in their first game as a ranked team since Oct. 24, 2009.

Kansas earned the No. 19 spot in this week’s AP college football poll following a 14-11 win over Iowa State that moved the Jayhawks to 2-0 in Big 12 play. The last time the program recorded multiple victories in its conference was 2008.

“We don’t necessarily pay attention to it too much, honestly,” Daniels said during an appearance on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” last week about not being ranked in the Sept. 25 AP poll. “I mean, we know what we’re doing inside these walls day in and day out. We know what type of preparation we’re putting in to be able to go against our opponent every single Saturday.”

Daniels is starting to gain some Heisman Trophy buzz, and Kansas has 27 offensive touchdowns, tied for the fourth-most in the country. He has accounted for 16 of those touchdowns, 11 through the air and five with his legs.

In back-to-back weeks, Daniels rushed for 123 yards in a 48-30 win at Houston and threw for 324 yards in a 35-27 victory against Duke. He finished with five total touchdowns in both games and also owns the seventh-best passer rating in the country.

And faith plays a central role in Daniels’ story. He shares about his relationship with God on social media — especially Instagram — and relied on his faith when college coaches overlooked him in high school, according to former teammate Elijah Jackson.

“People wrote [Daniels] off, but he always kept God in his life,” Jackson, who now plays at the University of Washington, recently told the L.A. Times. “It didn’t faze him, not one bit, and I actually think it made him better, put a chip on his shoulder.”

None of the adversity Daniels encountered on his journey to Kansas could shake his faith in God’s plan. He knew there was a purpose to all of it even though he couldn’t always see it.

“The road to getting where I am today isn’t easy, and I know it is not going to get easier,” Daniels told the L.A. 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.”

ESPN’s “College GameDay” will be live from Lawrence, Kansas, for the very first time Saturday ahead of the Jayhawks’ clash with No. 17 TCU. FOX Sports 1 is broadcasting the game with kickoff scheduled for noon ET.

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