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At first, the video appeared to show quarterback Jayden Daniels’ former teammates at Arizona State helping him pack for LSU.
Instead, what they were doing was disrespecting his property in his locker. And one of the players can he heard saying, “Clean his stuff out. He’s out of this bitch. (Racial slur) sucked anyways.”
That was in February when Daniels entered the NCAA transfer portal after three seasons as Arizona State’s starting quarterback under Coach Herm Edwards. He then decided on LSU and is a graduate transfer with two years to play. He has been battling sixth-year senior Myles Brennan for the starting job during spring drills.
“I came here for my future and my career,” Daniels said after a scrimmage over the weekend. “It’s a fresh start. What happened at Arizona State happened. You know that video? Well, I still got a lot of love for those guys up there. Still talk to ’em. I hope they do well this season. I’ll never prey on their downfall. I love Coach Herm. I love (assistant) Coach Marvin Lewis and the guys up there. But it’s my football career.”
Daniels has moved on, and his mobility gives him an advantage over Brennan for the starting job. At 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, he is as skinny now as Brennan was early in his LSU career. But Daniels gained 710 yards and scored six touchdowns last season for the Sun Devils while completing 197 of 301 passes for 2,381 yards with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The most rushing yards by an LSU quarterback in history was 450 by Jordan Jefferson in 2010, and he threw for just 1,411 that season.
Did Jayden Daniels Travel All This Way To Baton Rouge To Sit?
First-year LSU coach Brian Kelly has two different quarterbacks on his hands as he completes the final days of spring practice before the Tigers’ spring game on April 23 in Tiger Stadium.
Kelly is looking for “who’s maybe a little bit stronger in an RPO game plan.”
That would be Daniels, who often lacks touch on his intermediate passes.
Or “who might be a little bit better at a traditional, cross-the-field read, offensive structure,” Kelly added.
That would be Brennan, who has a quick release and a more accurate arm, but he has started just three games since 2017 to 29 by Daniels since 2019.
“We’re going to have some difficult choices to make, but each one of them has some different characteristics,” Kelly said. “Each guy can do some things differently, and we’re going to be putting together the offense to highlight their skill set. It’ll be our job to get the best out of them and tailor the offense accordingly.”
That could still be going on through August as the Sept. 4 season opener against Florida State in the Superdome in New Orleans approaches.
Redshirt freshman Garrett Nussmeier and true freshman, early enrollee Walker Howard are also practicing at quarterback this spring, but the battle is between Daniels and Brennan at the moment.
“This competition is probably going to spill over into the fall, as we all kind of suspected it probably will,” LSU offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock said Wednesday. “They’re all going to be given an opportunity to win the job, and it’s important for them to step up and seize the opportunity.”
Denbrock did just coach a dual-action quarterback like Daniels at Cincinnati, Desmond Ridder, who helped take the Bearcats to the College Football Playoff last season with 3,334 yards passing and 30 touchdowns while rushing for 355 and six scores.
“He had Desmond Ridder last year, a mobile guy,” Daniels said. “But at the end of the day, they’re going to play the best quarterback, if it’s me, if it’s Myles, Nuss, whoever they think best fits their offensive scheme.”
There were no promises made, according to Daniels.
“Coach Kelly said the best player’s going to play,” he said. “It’s not anything like we’re on the phone and he’s guaranteeing me, talking about, ‘You’re going to start.’ He’s transparent. I don’t want anything handed to me. And I felt like (LSU) was the best spot for me.”
LSU’s starter in 2021, Max Johnson, transferred to Texas A&M after the season. Brennan had entered the transfer portal after missing the entire season with a broken arm, but Kelly brought him back. Nussmeier played in the minimum four games last season. Howard is a five-star prospect.
“I mean, (the other QBs) know that they brought me in,” Daniels said. “I know that they’re there. It’s a healthy competition.”
Daniels first priority was to improve his footwork and increase his waistline.
“They want me to try to get over 200,” he said. “I’m getting there. There’s a lot of good food out here, so I’m happy.”
If Daniels loses to Brennan this year, he does have next year.
“I’m not going to say that’s what my goal is,” Daniels said. “If it is me, I’m going to put myself in the best position and help the team win a national championship. I came here for the opportunity to come play at the highest level and help a powerhouse win another national championship.”
Arizona State was 8-5 in Daniels’ freshman season in 2019, 2-2 in the COVID-shortened 2020 season and 8-5 last year. LSU was 15-0 national champions in 2019-20 before dipping to 5-5 in 2020 and to 6-7 last year. But the Tigers do have more talent at receiver and running back than the Sun Devils and will likely return a decent defense.
“I decided to go somewhere else so I could reach untapped potential,” Daniels said. “I get to showcase my talents on the national stage now. Back home (in the Los Angeles area), a lot of people don’t get to see our games. Coming here and competing with all these weapons, all these resources is very intriguing to me. And Coach Kelly was the winningest coach in Notre Dame history. So, he knows how to win. He knows how to get his team where it needs to be. So I want to be a part of it.”
So much so, he didn’t even clean out his locker.