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Jayden Daniels superior Play, Remarkable Growth embody the Heisman Trophy

Updated: Dec 5, 2023


The Heisman Memorial Trophy is awarded “to the outstanding college football player whose performance epitomizes great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.” Those attributes accurately describe LSU QB Jayden Daniels. He is the engine that drives the #1 offense in college football and flashes a million-dollar smile at you as he jukes you out of your cleats on his way to the endzone.


Jayden Daniels-Great Ability

On a record-setting Saturday night in Death Valley, Daniels shredded the Florida Gators defense, turning a Top 30 defensive unit into an alligator-skinned handbag and matching pair of shoes. Daniels accounted for 606 total yards and five touchdowns, including scoring runs of 85 and 51 yards, in a 52-35 win over Florida.

As a result, he is the only player in the history of the FBS to pass for at least 350 yards and rush for at least 200 yards…in the same game.


Not too shabby for a guy who was knocked out of the Alabama game last week with a concussion. He is resilient, plays through pain, and carries his team on his back.


I was told by my fellow scribes here at College Football Dawgs that I need to take more of a stand in my writing, even if I am wrong. I happily do that now. It is my opinion that on Saturday night Daniels made a statement to the Heisman voters that he deserves a front-row seat in New York come December as a Heisman finalist.


Daniels is a big cat of different stripes when it comes to playing the quarterback position. He extends plays with his legs, whether designed or improvised. And when he gets into the open field, he has a different gear that leaves hapless tacklers grasping for air.


And what about Heisman moments, you ask? Let’s discuss shall we?


 

Perseverance

On the road at Missouri, he played with badly bruised ribs and through sheer will, brought LSU back in the second half to win 49-39 after being down 25-17 at halftime. By the way, Daniels accounted for 389 total yards and four touchdowns.


In the 42-28 road loss at Alabama, Daniels matched the “savior of the 2023 Alabama football season” Jalen Milroe's 'yard for freaking yard' before taking the crown of Dallas Turner’s helmet under his chin and was knocked out of the game with the aforementioned concussion. Daniels accounted for 382 total yards and three touchdowns and averaged 14 yards per carry against the “mighty” Crimson Tide defense. This game was tied 21-21 at halftime.


Against the Gators, with LSU down 28-24 midway through the 3rd quarter, Daniels willed his team back into the lead for good with a beautiful 51-yard TD run. To me, this was his Heisman moment. Putting his team back into the lead and in position to win a game in the SEC.

Of course, you might be wondering “Tony, what about LSU’s other losses?”


In the loss to Florida State in week one in a battle of Top Ten teams, Daniels accounted for 410 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT.

 

Diligence

On the road in a loss to Ole Miss, Daniels passed for 414 yards and four touchdowns. In addition, he rushed for 99 yards and a score. All total, Daniels accounted for 513 yards and five TDs against the Rebels. Daniels led his team down the field, with the game clock winding down, with a chance to win the game. But his pass to the endzone went through the receiver’s hands and fell incomplete.


But there is precedent with Heisman winners playing for teams with 3 or more losses:


·2007-Tim Tebow, Florida Gators (9-4): 3,950 total yards, 51 TDs

·2011-Robert Griffin III, Baylor Bears (10-3): 4,642 total yards, 45 TDs

·2016-Lamar Jackson, Louisville Cardinals (9-4): 4928 total yards, 51 TDs

·2021-Caleb Williams, USC Trojans (11-3): 4,075 pass yards, 38 TDs, 4 INTs


Anyone who has followed or covered LSU football this season knows full well that these three losses have less to do with Daniels and more to do with the rubber band defense that LSU has fielded, the worst defense to come out of the tunnel in Death Valley in 25 years.


But despite this, Daniels has looked adversity square in the face and has produced, doing his part game after game. He is a man of commitment and sheer will whose only desire is to lead the LSU Tigers on the field and to victory.

With two home games remaining (Georgia State, then Texas A&M) in the regular season, Daniels's 2023 stats are as follows:


·3,164 yards passing, 30 TDs, 4 INTs

·918 yards rushing, 8 TDs, 8-yard average

·4,082 total yards, 38 total touchdowns


So, go ahead and put out a chair with Jayden’s name on it at the Heisman Ceremony. He needs a place to sit while he waits for his name to be called to hoist the most prestigious award in college football.



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