LSU starting quarterback Jayden Daniels plans to return to Baton Rouge in 2023 for his senior season, he announced Thursday. After transferring in from Arizona State, where he was a three-year starter, Daniels helped guide the Tigers to an SEC West title in his first season.
"Louisiana has accepted me as their own and there is nothing like Saturday Nights in Tiger Stadium," Daniels wrote in a Twitter post announcing his decision. "We accomplished a lot this year and exceeded many people's expectations even though we came up short of some of our goals….This has been an amazing ride and honestly, I am not ready to get off just yet."
At 9-4, the Tigers are set to face Purdue in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 2. Daniels is expected to play in the game after dealing with an injury that knocked him out for much of the second half of the loss to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 3.
December 22, 2022
Daniels battled injuries throughout the season but proved to be a headache for opposing defenses with both his legs and his arm after an up-and-down three seasons at Arizona State. During back-to-back wins in October against Florida and Ole Miss, Daniels totaled 11 touchdowns. The next week, he added three more in a 32-31 upset of Alabama that proved critical in helping the Tigers win the SEC West. In all, Daniels passed for 2,774 yards and 16 touchdowns, throwing just three picks, while also rushing for 818 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2022.
Impact on LSU
The only quarterback to run for more yards this season in college football is John Rhys Plumlee at UCF. Daniels made the Tigers multi-dimensional in coach Brian Kelly's first season, and his return will help keep LSU in the mix for another division crown.
With other SEC quarterback stars such as Alabama's Bryce Young, Tennessee's Hendon Hooker and Georgia's Stetson Bennett either out of eligibility or likely moving on to the NFL Draft, Daniels will enter 2023 with a shot to be an all-conference player.
While his return is good news for the program, it also delays the starting timeline for Garrett Nussmeier. When Daniels exited the SEC Championship Game vs. Georgia with an injury, Nussmeier stepped in and completed 15 of 27 passes for 294 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The performance was an encouraging glimpse of what the future could hold for LSU at the position. Nussmeier was just a redshirt freshman this season; if he chooses to stay, he will still have two years of eligibility after the 2023 season when Daniels is out of eligibility.
The Tigers also have former four-star quarterback prospect Walker Howard, a true freshman this past season. In this era of mass-transferring, keeping both Nussmeier and Howard as backups next season could be tough for LSU.
Aiming to go out strong
Daniels began his college career with a bang at Arizona State in 2019 by throwing for 2,943 yards, 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions while helping the Sun Devils to an 8-5 record. Relative to the standard set that season, his next two years were disappointing.
When he chose LSU as a transfer destination, it first seemed like an odd fit. With Nussmeier, Howard and veteran Myles Brennan already on the roster -- all of them with either high recruiting accolades or proven experience (in Brennan's case) -- it seemed like Daniels might face an uphill battle to winning the starting job. However, he quickly proved that, with great talent around him, he could an even better version of the player who broke out nationally at Arizona State in 2019. While NFL scouts may still want to see more from Daniels in the downfield passing game, there's little question that Daniels' time as LSU has helped him reemerge as one of the top QBs in the college game.