Kansas junior quarterback Jalon Daniels (6) throws a pass in the third quarter of Saturday’s game against Duke at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium Saturday. © Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK
Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels has taken the college football world by storm — and you best believe coaches across the Big 12 are among those taking notice.
That group includes Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell, who will lead his team into Lawrence to take on Daniels and the 4-0 Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
In scouting the Jayhawks this week, Campbell’s eyes have been drawn to the quarterback spot where Daniels has shined while emerging as one of the most dynamic signal-callers in the sport.
“I said to, I think, our staff this morning, one of the things that’s probably so impressive about him, is you look at him and you’re like, ‘Man, I want to be around that kid.’ As a coach, an opposing coach, I think how he carries himself, how he plays the game, you just have a real appreciation for him,” Campbell said during his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “You can tell the kids believe in him. He believes in him. He’s having fun playing. I think again, the credit there has to go a little bit too, man. You do a great job of putting your players in position to be successful. I talk about that all the time in our program, right? Players, formations, plays. I think that’s what you see is a young man that certainly has talent, and he’s being put in great positions to use his talent. He’s enjoying playing the game, and he’s putting his team in a great position to have success.”
We should have seen this hot start coming from Daniels, who is completing 71 percent of his passes for 890 yards, 11 touchdowns and only one interception through Kansas’ first four games.
His numbers through four games aren’t all that different than they were through the six games he appeared in last season when he tallied 860 yards through the air, seven touchdowns, three interceptions and completed 69.2 percent of his passes.
The 6-foot, 215-pound Lawndale, Calif. native has been almost as dynamic with his feet, rushing for a team-high 326 yards and four touchdowns so far in 2022. That elusiveness has been critical to Kansas ranking first in the Big 12 in sacks allowed with only one through four games.
“(He’s) a guy that’s extremely confident. A young man that has got elite athleticism, his ability to really challenge you every time the ball is in his hand,” Campbell said. “As soon as you think, man, he’s just gonna be a runner, you’d be false. What was he? 19-for-23 last week? He has the efficiency to make you pay in the passing game and has done a great job of it.”
There will be no bigger key for Iowa State going into Lawrence on Saturday than navigating that challenge Daniels presents. Let him get loose in the run game and he can cut through the defense all afternoon.
Let him start to get into a rhythm throwing the football and one of the Big 12’s best offenses will really start to roll.
“(He’s) just a very confident football player,” Campbell said. “A guy that can challenge you every single time the ball is in his hands.”