LSU QB Jayden Daniels tops field to win Heisman Trophy

For the second year in a row and the fifth time in the past seven years, a transfer quarterback has won the Heisman Trophy.

LSU’s Jayden Daniels, who began his college career at Arizona State before transferring to Baton Rouge in 2022, won the sport’s most prestigious award Saturday night after accounting for 4,946 yards of offense (3,812 passing yards, 1,134 rushing yards) and 50 total touchdowns this season.

Daniels received 503 first-place votes and 2,029 total points to edge out two fellow transfer quarterbacks in Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. (292 first-place, 1,701 total) and Oregon ‘s Bo Nix (51 first-place, 885 total), as well as Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (20 first-place, 352 total) in a ceremony held at Lincoln Center in New York City. Florida State’s Jordan Travis placed fifth after receiving eight first-place votes for 85 total points.

Daniels’ 328-point margin of victory over Penix marked the closest Heisman voting since 2018, when Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray won with 2,167 points over Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s 1,871.

Daniels said winning the Heisman was “a dream come true.”

“I want to thank all my teammates, from Arizona State to LSU,” Daniels said. “You’re my brothers. You work so hard every day, inspiring me to be my best.”

Daniels, a 22-year-old from San Bernardino, California, is the first player since 2016 to win the Heisman as part of a team that did not play for a conference title. The No. 13 Tigers will play Wisconsin in the ReliaQuest Bowl on Jan. 1, though Daniels has not yet decided if he will play.

“I really wish I could have brought you back another championship,” Daniels said as he thanked the LSU fans.

Daniels led all FBS players in QBR (95.7), yards per attempt (11.7, an FBS record) and passing touchdowns (40), as well as completions of 20 yards or more (70). His 72.2 completion percentage was seventh in the nation, while his total offensive yards per game (412.2) were first, 74 yards better than the next best player.

As a runner, Daniels was topped by only 25 running backs in yards per game, and his 8.4 rushing yards per attempt was good enough for fourth in FBS among all running backs. In every season since he first entered college, Daniels has improved upon his output as a runner, more than tripling his 2019 rushing yards total in 2023.

A four-star recruit out of Cajon High School in San Bernardino, Daniels first committed to ASU in 2018 before winning the starting quarterback job heading into the Sun Devils’ 2019 season. He was the first true freshman to be a starting quarterback in the history of the program.

Daniels’ time in Tempe featured some highs — a freshman campaign that featured 2,943 yards and 17 touchdowns — as well as some lows, including a 10-interception season in 2021. Before that season began, the NCAA announced Arizona State was under investigation for several potential recruiting violations.

Following the 2021 season at ASU, Daniels announced he would be transferring to LSU, who had just hired Brian Kelly as its head coach. During his first season as a Tiger, Daniels led LSU to nine wins and the SEC Championship game while throwing for 2,774 yards and running for 818 more.

But even with Daniels at the helm after making a substantial leap in his fifth year, LSU couldn’t improve upon its 2022 season, once again winning nine regular-season games. This year, that was not good enough to make it to the conference championship.

Yet when it came to the Heisman, Daniels’ statistics were far too impressive to ignore. Daniels is the second player in FBS history with 40 pass TDs, 10 rush TDs and 1,000 rushing yards in a season — the other being Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray in 2018. Though the Heisman only encapsulates this season, Daniels’ honor is also somewhat a career achievement award. He is the first player in FBS history to reach 12,000 career passing yards and 3,000 career rushing yards.

Daniels is the third LSU player to ever win the Heisman (Billy Cannon in 1959 and Joe Burrow in 2019) as well as the third straight quarterback to win the award and the seventh in the last eight years.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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