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For the first time since his departure, former Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels addressed his decision to enter the transfer portal. Daniels, now vying for the LSU starting spot, said the purpose of the move was to better showcase his ability.
“It was probably the best move for me and my future career,” he said on Saturday during his first media availability since leaving ASU. “With the goals I want to accomplish and those conversations with Coach (Brian) Kelly and them, I showed interest in them and they showed interest back.”
Daniels isn’t shy about his NFL aspirations, but the junior struggled mightily against arguably average talent in the Pac-12. The former Sun Devil threw as many interceptions as he did touchdowns in 2021 (10).
Daniels also put up the worst passer rating of his career (136.2) last season. Now he is going to be battle tested against the nation’s most feared defenses.
“I always enjoyed my time at Arizona State, love Coach Herm (Edwards) and those guys over there,” Daniels said. “But just for my career, my future, I decided to go somewhere else, so I can reach that untapped potential.”
It’s unique in college football to see an experienced player transfer out of a relatively mid-level program to a historically dominant university and find immediate success, and most players who make that transfer are coming off phenomenal seasons, not their worst to date.
LSU head coach Brian Kelly said recently that Daniels made the initial contact after entering the transfer portal. After that, it was up to the university to take a flier on a kid who was coming off a down season.
“Jayden had made the decision to go into the portal, which starts the whole process,” Kelly said. “The young man made that decision to go in the portal … and contact was made and it was up to us to see if we were going to reciprocate, and obviously we did.”
Kelly used the words “untapped potential” when Daniels made the decision to depart for Baton Rouge, but the insinuation that Daniels’ inconsistent play stemmed from a lack of offensive scheme or weapons is a bit of a head scratcher.
Throughout his time in the desert, the former ASU quarterback lined up with offensive weapons such as running backs Eno Benjamin and Raachad White. Benjamin is now a member of the Arizona Cardinals, while White is expected to be selected in this year’s NFL draft.
On the perimeter, Daniels threw to wide receivers Frank Darby and Brandon Aiyuk. Darby is playing for the Atlanta Falcons and Aiyuk suits up for the San Francisco 49ers.
Regardless of weapons, it’s understandable why any football player would want to make the jump from ASU to LSU. The Tigers command far more of a national audience than the Sun Devils, but there’s really no guessing what this LSU team will look like with Kelly at the helm in year one.
“The most intriguing thing for me: Coach Kelly is the winningest coach in Notre Dame history so he knows how to win, and he knows how to get his team where it needs to be,” Daniels said. “So I want to be a part of it.”
Kelly may be the winningest coach in Notre Dame history, but he’s no longer in South Bend. The former Irish legend failed to beat college football titans Alabama, Clemson and Georgia on multiple occasions.
Kelly is 2-4 against SEC opponents. Daniels’ decision to pick up and abandon a place where he spent three seasons with a coach who took a chance on him as a freshman leaves ASU in shambles.
ASU coach Herm Edwards went from a solidified starter to a quarterback competition between two guys who both need time to develop. Redshirt juniors Trenton Bourguet and Paul Tyson put their skills on full display over the last month. Neither owned the moment enough to fully claim the starting role.
Edwards said early in the spring that he knew Daniels was going to transfer. He did his best to get ahead of Daniels’ exit from the program by bringing in Tyson.
“When you’re the coach you’ve got to be way ahead of this,” Edwards said. “You’ve got to see this coming. I didn’t sit here lost, not seeing it coming. I knew it was coming.”
Less than a month after gaining a quarterback from the SEC, Edwards lost one to the same conference. After hearing Edwards discuss the Daniels move, it’s possible to surmise that Daniels’ decision was made weeks before the announcement. That would be around the same time that Tyson announced his transfer from Alabama to ASU.
No matter when the divorce was decided, it’s done and the Sun Devils are left with the short end of the stick. It’s understandable that ASU fans are tired of hearing the name Daniels uttered through Tempe.
Daniels has taken fans on a roller coaster ride these last few years, from his early success during his freshman campaign, to the eventual “I’m coming back” video that littered social media, to the final chapter in that novel.
Daniels will play at LSU. Edwards will coach with what he’s got at ASU. Like most breakups, one party is left a little more broken than the other. Unfortunately for Sun Devil nation, the maroon and gold are the ones who will need to heal from all of this. If it wasn’t clear already, Daniels has already moved on.
“Best thing I could’ve done,” Daniels said.
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