LSU QB Jayden Daniels wins 2023 Heisman

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NEW YORK — LSU senior quarterback Jayden Daniels won the Heisman Memorial Trophy as the most outstanding player in college football on Saturday night, capping a sensational season in which he led the nation’s best offense.

This is the 20th time this century that a quarterback has won the Heisman, and Daniels is the third Heisman winner at LSU, following quarterback Joe Burrow in 2019 and the 1959 winner, halfback Billy Cannon. Alabama linebackers Mark Ingram (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015) and Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith (2020) are the only non-quarterback winners since 2000.

Daniels received 503 first-place votes and 2,029 total points. Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was second in the voting (292, 1,701), Oregon State quarterback Bo Nix was third (51, 885), and Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. was fourth (20, 352). Daniels received 90.46% of the total vote and won four of the six voting districts.

He is the fifth quarterback in the past seven seasons to win the Heisman Trophy after transferring schools and the first since 2016 not to play in the conference championship game.

Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis finished fifth in the balloting, followed by Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe, Oklahoma State running back Ollie Gordon II, and Missouri running back Cody Shrader. Michigan’s Blake Corum and JJ McCarthy rounded out the top 10.

The Heisman Trophy was added to Daniels’ accolades this season after he was named the Associated Press College Football Player of the Year and the Walter Camp Player of the Year. He also won the Davey O’Brien Award, given to the nation’s best quarterback.

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Daniels, who turns 23 on December 18, led the nation in total offense, passing efficiency, points responsible for, and rushing yards per carry, and tied for the lead in touchdown passes (40) with the Knicks. He completed 72.2% of his passes for 3,812 yards and had 1,134 receiving yards and 10 more scores on the ground.

The game that might have won him the award came on November 11 against Florida, when he became the first player in FBS history to throw for 350 yards and rush for more than 200 yards in a single game. He finished with 606 of LSU’s 701 total yards in the 52-35 victory.

The focal point of LSU’s offense, Daniels’ steady hand and calm demeanor under pressure led the Tigers as they led the FBS in scoring offense (46.4 points per game), total offense (547.8 yards per game), and third-down conversions, averaging a ridiculous 8.53 yards per play.

“Being a college athlete and winning this award was a dream come true. I want to dedicate this award to every boy and girl who has a dream or a belief, with hard work you never know what is possible.” Daniels said in his acceptance speech. “They said I was too skinny, so I had to wait. Then they said I relied on my legs too much, so I went to work, completed all those passes, and had the season I had. They said I was too skinny.” Quiet, so I became more vocal, I stepped out of my comfort zone and now here I am today.

“So what did I learn from all of this? I learned how to block out the noise, that you can overcome any obstacle, be humble, be legendary, and most importantly, be happy with what you do. And when you get down, get up, keep smiling, and don’t Never give up on your dreams.”

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A four-star recruit out of Cajon High School in San Bernardino, California, after throwing for 170 touchdowns with 41 rushing scores, Daniels began his college career at Arizona State in 2019.

He arrived in Tempe after attending school early under coach Herman Edwards. The 6-foot-4 Daniels weighed just 175 pounds, raising questions about whether he could physically handle playing college football. But he became the first freshman quarterback to be named Arizona State’s starter for the inaugural season.

He showed flashes of the player who would become a freshman, throwing for 2,943 yards with 17 touchdowns and two interceptions as the Sun Devils finished 8-5. Arizona State played just four games during the shortened 2020 season.

His time with the Sun Devils was anything but smooth. However, Daniels started 29 games in three seasons, playing his final year in 2021 amid the backdrop of an NCAA investigation into the school over recruiting practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daniels said he was staying at Arizona State at the end of the season but jumped into the transfer portal months later after five coaches on the staff left or were fired amid the NCAA investigation.

His teammates were clearly upset by the decision and posted a video of players cleaning out his locker, with someone commenting in the background that Daniels “bads anyway.”

Upon arriving at LSU, he beat out two other quarterbacks who were top recruits and finished 2022 with 2,913 yards and 17 touchdowns, adding another 885 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.

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Follow sports reporter Scooby Axon on Twitter @scobaxon

Jayden Daniels Heisman Award Acceptance Speech

Contributing: Sahil Kurup, USA TODAY Network

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